The Top Tennis player suddenly faces a Drop from the Net
Melbourne, Australia, January 6, 2022
World Tennis Top Star Novak Djokovic has been told that his visa has been refused and that he has leave Australia later today, according to an Australian Border Force notification.
Djokovic had been given a medical exemption to meet Australia’s Covid-19 vaccination requirements to enable him to defend his Australian Open title but it prompted an incensed reaction from many in the country.
The Australian Border Force said that Djokovic has been informed of the government’s decision. It said that the Tennis Star had failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and that his visa had subsequently been cancelled.
“This evidence is required to be presented at the border by unvaccinated people. Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia,” the Border Force said in a statement.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled and he will not be allowed to enter the country.
“Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from Covid. We are continuing to be vigilant,” he wrote on Twitter.
Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) January 5, 2022
Serbian President angry
Meanwhile, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić has vowed to “fight” for Djokovic to be able to enter Australia.
He wrote on Instagram that he had spoken to Djokovic and vowed to use all diplomatic avenues available to Serbia to help the player.
“I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him. Our diplomats and officials are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end, immediately,” he said.
The ABC reported that the 34-year-old Serbian is being taken to an immigration hotel in Melbourne.
It is expected that he will challenge the visa cancellation in Australia’s Federal Court.
Reuters reported earlier that Djokovic had been left stranded in a Melbourne airport lounge overnight, landing in the middle of a political maelstrom over his medical exemption from Covid-19 vaccination requirements, with a visa blunder, adding to the World Number One’s problems ahead of the Australian Open.
Djokovic touched down at Tullamarine airport at about 11.30pm local time but had to await permission to enter the country after it emerged that his team had applied for a visa that does not allow for medical exemptions.
Morrison faces backlash
That prompted the local government of Victoria, the state where the Open is played, to say that it would not support Djokovic’s application, putting his fate in the hands of the Federal Government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Morrison has faced an enormous backlash over his government’s decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption from vaccination to play at the Open, where the player would be bidding for a record 21st major title.
Australia, especially the state of Victoria, has endured the world’s longest cumulative lockdown and an outbreak of the Omicron variant has sent case numbers to record levels.
Following the backlash, Morrison suggested Djokovic’s participation was not a done deal and he would have to satisfy the Federal Government, which has responsibility for international borders and visas and was not part of the exemption process.
Morrison said shortly before Djokovic’s arrival that there would be “no special rules” for him on his exemption.
“If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home,” Morrison told a media conference earlier.
Djokovic arrived aboard an Emirates flight but when border officials contacted the Victorian government it they would formally support the visa application of Djokovic, it said ‘No.’
“The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia. We will not be providing him with visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam. We have always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the federal government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors,” Victoria’s Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said.
Tennis Australia and government officials moved quickly to stress that Djokovic, who has said he is opposed to Covid-19 vaccinations, had received no preferential treatment.
Djokovic, who has won nine titles at Melbourne Park including the last three, confirmed on Wednesday (January 5, 2022) that had received a vaccination exemption to allow him to play at the Australian Open, which starts on January 17, 2022..
Australian Tennis great Rod Laver, after whom the main showcourt at Melbourne Park in the state of Victoria is named, warned that Djokovic might face hostility from the local crowd.
“I think it might get ugly. The Victorian people would be thinking, ‘Yes we would love to see him play and compete, but at the same time there is a right way and a wrong way. Yes, you are a great player and you have performed and won so many tournaments, so it cannot be physical. So what is the problem?” he told Newscorp.
Melbourne local Christine Wharton said it was a “disgrace.”
“We have all done the right thing, we have all gone out and got our jabs and our boosters, and we have someone come from overseas and all of a sudden he has been exempt and can play, and I think it is an absolute disgrace and I will not be watching it.”
-Reuters / ABC: -Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz