World No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s chance of playing in the 10th Australian Open was ruled out on Thursday after the country denied him entry and cancelled his visa. The Australian Border Force authorities made a statement that the top-ranked tennis star failed to meet the requirements for an exemption to Covid19 vaccination rules.
Djokovic on Tuesday shared on social media that “exemption permission” from the Victoria State Government would shield him from vaccination rules. However, Melbourne’s The Age newspaper reported that his entry into the country was delayed after landing at Tullamarine Airport late Wednesday. Later, it came to the surface that the border authorities did not accept his exemption leading to his denied entry.
“The rule is very clear,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told in a news conference on Thursday. “You need to have a medical exemption. He didn’t have a valid medical exemption. We make the call at the border, and that’s where it’s enforced.”
As per the Victoria Government mandate, only fully vaccinated players, staff members, fans officials will be allowed to enter Melbourne Park for the tournament which is scheduled to start from January 17.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said that only 26 people connected with the tournament applied for the exemption and only a handful of them were granted. He also defended the application and review process making it clear that no special treatment was given to Djokovic.
Confirming the Visa cancellation, Prime Minister Scott Morrison posted, “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.”
Later, he also denied the suggestion of Djokovic being singled out. “One of the things the Border Force does is they act on intelligence to direct their attention to potential arrivals,” he said. “When you get people making public statements about what they say they have, and they’re going to do, they draw significant attention to themselves.”
Meanwhile, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called the Visa row harassment of the tennis star who was looking forward to defending his Australian Open title. In an Instagram post, he said that he has a telephonic conversation with Djokovic.
“I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end immediately.”
Notably, the acting Victoria Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said that they “will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.”
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