Djokovic’s Australian entry denied amid growing backlash against Covid vaccination exemption
Novak Djokovic, No. 1 men’s tennis player, was waiting to enter Australia to compete in the Australian Open on Wednesday morning after being denied a visa by the Victoria state government in the middle of the controversy surrounding a vaccine exemption granted to him, the Age reported.
Djokovic arrived in Australia at 11:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday but was refused entry because he had applied for a visa which does not authorize medical dispensations for vaccinations against Covid-19, Age reported, citing an anonymous source.
Jaala Pulford, Acting Minister for Sport of Australia, tweeted, “We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual assistance with visa applications” to participate in the 2022 Australian Open.
The best tennis player in the world noted On Tuesday, in a post on Instagram, he was heading to Melbourne “with an exemption permit”.
The Australian Border Force, which is trying to get the Victorian government to support Djokovic’s visa,may allow its entry at their discretion despite the refusal of the Victorian government to issue a visa, according to the Age.
It seems likely that he obtained the exemption either for a “positive PCR test result confirmed for the virus within the last six months” or for an “acute medical condition”, based on existing guidelines.
Australian lawmaker David Southwick, Victorian deputy liberal leader, tweeted, Djokovic’s vaccine exemption was a “disgrace” as the Victorian community suffered six lockdowns during the pandemic. Backlash against Djokovic’s vaccine exemption comes as Australian government has been accused of being more flexible with celebrities rich and famous, BBC noted. Tennis players wondered if Djokovic’s fame influenced his vaccine exemption. British tennis player Jamie Murray noted Tuesday, “I think if it was me who wasn’t vaccinated, I wouldn’t have an exemption.” Rod Laver, a great Australian tennis player, said Djokovic should reveal why he got a bye. “Yeah, you’re a great player and you’ve played and won so many tournaments so it can’t be physical,” Laver said, “So what’s the deal?”
What to watch out for
Djokovic, 34, will explain why he obtained a medical exemption to participate in the Australian Open. Acting Prime Minister Jacinta Allan noted On Wednesday, the government expects him to explain to the Victorian community why he got an exemption and explain “some of the motives behind his actions and intentions to play” in Australia. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted if the evidence presented by Djokovic regarding his vaccine exemption is “insufficient”, he would be “on the next plane home”, stressing that he would not receive special treatment.
A total of 26 applications had been filed to seek medical exemptions from getting vaccinated for the Australian Open, according to Tennis Australia. But the number of exemptions granted was not immediately clear.
Djokovic has sparked controversy because of his stance on Covid vaccines. In April 2020, the Serbian athlete noted, “Personally, I am opposed to vaccination and I would not want to be forced by someone to be vaccinated in order to be able to travel. He did not disclose his vaccination status. Last month he took of of the ATP Cup in Australia, which raised doubts about his participation in the Australian Open. He was among 13 of Forbes’ 50 highest-paid athletes to refuse to say they had been vaccinated last year.
$ 34.5 million. That’s what he won in 2021, making him the 46th highest-paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes.
Djokovic may have received one of those Australian Open vaccine exemptions (Forbes)
Novak Djokovic will compete in the Australian Open unvaccinated after obtaining a medical exemption (Forbes)