Novak Djokovic caught in visa bungle on arrival into Melbourne amid Australian Open controversy


Event organizers introduced on Tuesday that Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption — a call which has provoked a backlash amongst Australians.

The 20-time grand slam champion reportedly traveled to Australia on a visa that doesn’t allow medical exemptions for being unvaccinated, Australian information retailers reported.

Appearing Victoria Sports activities Minister Jaala Pulford confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday that the federal government wouldn’t assist Djokovic’s visa utility.

“The Federal Authorities has requested if we’ll assist Novak Djokovic’s visa utility to enter Australia. We won’t be offering Novak Djokovic with particular person visa utility assist to take part within the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam,” wrote Pulford.

“We have all the time been clear on two factors: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Authorities, and medical exemptions are a matter for medical doctors,” she added.

Australian information retailers reported that the Australian Border Power subsequently sought assist from the Victorian authorities to facilitate Djokovic’s entry as a result of Victoria companions with Tennis Australia in working the Australian Open.

Each The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Djokovic would possible be allowed off the aircraft and into Melbourne, however the scenario was nonetheless ongoing at midnight native time.

Neither Tennis Australia nor Djokovic’s staff was instantly obtainable for remark when contacted by CNN.

Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, posted a photograph to social media from what seems to be the Melbourne Airport, the place the boys’s tennis world No. 1 is reportedly being held because of the visa mix-up.

Ivanisevic posted the picture of him and others with the caption, “Not essentially the most common journey Down Beneath,” on Instagram on Wednesday.

Australians have responded with anger and skepticism to the information that males’s tennis No. 1 has been granted an exemption to compete.

There had been uncertainty over Djokovic’s participation after gamers had been advised they must be totally vaccinated with a view to take part or have a medical exemption granted by an unbiased panel of specialists. The exemption from the vaccine mandate means he’ll defend his 2021 title in Melbourne.

Djokovic, who’s tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam singles titles, has not publicly revealed his vaccination standing however voiced opposition to Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates in April 2020.

“Personally, I’m against vaccination and I would not need to be compelled by somebody to take a vaccine so as to have the ability to journey,” he mentioned in a Facebook live chat, based on Reuters.
But in May of last year, Djokovic mentioned vaccination was a matter of non-public alternative: “I’ll hold the choice as as to if I’ll get vaccinated or to not myself. It is an intimate choice, and I do not need to go into this sport of professional and towards vaccines, which the media is sadly creating nowadays.”

Australian Open organizers mentioned in a press release on Tuesday Djokovic’s exemption was “granted following a rigorous assessment course of involving two separate unbiased panels of medical specialists.”

However the vaccine exemption has sparked backlash in Australia.

Deputy Victorian Liberal Chief David Southwick called the decision to permit Djokovic to participate on this yr’s match “a shame,” describing it as a “kick within the guts to each Victorian” who endured months of lockdowns and suffered private setbacks throughout the pandemic.
Djokovic celebrates winning the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 21, 2021.

Requires a boycott

Certainly one of Melbourne’s most well-known former Australian Soccer League (AFL) stars Kevin Bartlett tweeted that Australians had been “taken for fools.” Whereas one of many metropolis’s outstanding emergency physicians and former president of the Australian Medical Affiliation (AMA) Stephen Parnis, said the decision despatched “an appalling message” to the general public.

Throughout Melbourne, one of many world’s most locked-down cities in 2021, tennis followers took to social media posting requires an Australian Open “boycott.”

The CEO of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, defended the impartiality of the medical exemption assessment course of on Wednesday, telling reporters throughout a press convention that “nobody knew who the applicant was.”

“There have been 26 candidates via the method — there is a handful which had been supplied with an exemption and that info solely will get disclosed by these people on the grounds of which they had been supplied an exemption,” Tiley mentioned.

“The method has been very clear and we fully perceive and empathize with, to begin with, some individuals being upset about the truth that Novak has are available due to his statements previously round vaccination,” he mentioned.

Australian Open organizers confirm medical exemption process

“Nevertheless, it is finally as much as him to debate with the general public his situation if he chooses to do this and the explanation why he obtained his exemption.”

Appearing Victorian Sports activities Minister Jaala Pulford advised reporters “no person has had particular therapy.”

“The method is extremely sturdy. It is de-identified and we’re the place we’re, and so the tennis can start,” she mentioned, based on Reuters.

Djokovic’s exemption comes two weeks after Russian tennis participant Nata Vikhlyantseva revealed she could be unable to journey to the match as a result of her vaccine will not be acknowledged by native well being authorities.

The Sputnik V will not be on the listing of vaccines at present permitted by the Australian authorities, leaving world No.195 Vikhlyantseva ineligible to play.

Beneath the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) present pointers, a medical exemption is granted to people who’ve an “acute main medical situation (e.g. present process main surgical procedure or hospital admission for a severe sickness.”

The opposite remaining grounds for a medical exemption concern individuals who have suffered a “severe opposed occasion attributed to a earlier dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with out one other trigger recognized” and a vaccinee who “is a threat to themselves or others throughout the vaccination course of,” as a result of an “underlying developmental or psychological well being dysfunction.”

Lastly, exemptions could also be given to anybody with a “PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 an infection, the place vaccination may be deferred till six months,” and in circumstances the place people have obtained “anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma remedy.”

In June 2020, Djokovic examined optimistic for coronavirus following an exhibition occasion he organized in Croatia, however since then there have been no studies of him being re-infected with the virus.

Australia's vaccine mandate is not to 'blackmail' Djokovic says Victoria sports minister
The backlash towards the exemption comes after Melbourne residents spent more than 260 days confined to their properties, forbidden to depart besides to purchase groceries or different important gadgets, largely in two lengthy stretches from July to October, 2020 and August to October, 2021.
Australia has began 2022 with a record number of new Covid-19 cases as a result of a rising outbreak centered within the japanese states.

New South Wales, essentially the most populous state, and Victoria — residence to Melbourne — each posted every day report case numbers on Saturday, well being division figures confirmed.

Many commented on social media that hundreds of Australians had been stranded overseas, unable to return to their residence nation even to go to sick or dying family, as a result of Australia’s strict border controls and quotas on arrivals.

On Tuesday, Djokovic posted an image of himself at an airport with a caption stating he was “heading Down Beneath.”

“Pleased New 12 months, all people! Wishing you all well being, love, and happiness in each current second and will you are feeling love & respect in the direction of all beings on this glorious planet,” he wrote on Instagram.

“I’ve spent unbelievable high quality time with my family members over the break and at present I am heading Down Beneath with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022.”

Six-time grand slam champion and Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker says the Serbian will not be intending to interrupt any legal guidelines and may have private alternative over taking the vaccine.

“I believe it could be in his finest pursuits to overtly talk about it […] and possibly let everybody in a little bit bit about what he went via to get this particular exemption. I believe it would assist his trigger,” Becker advised CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies.

“Whether or not you want him or not, you want to respect his achievements.”

When requested about how gamers will reply to Djokovic’s exemption, Becker added: “The distinction can be nothing from earlier than as a result of he is been beating most of those gamers he is been seeing within the locker room, so he is not the preferred man however for numerous completely different causes.”

The Australian Open is the primary grand slam of the yr and is about to run from January 17-30.

CNN’s Ben Church contributed reporting. Extra reporting from Reuters.


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