Australia revoked the visa of the world’s number 1 Tennis player Novak Djokovic as soon as he arrived in the country. The 34-year-old Serbian star, who refused to display COVID vaccination evidence, reportedly remained at Melbourne airport for several hours. Officials later announced to deport him as he failed to meet entry rules. Djokovic, who came to defend his title at the Australian Open, has now reportedly been sent to wait for his departure flight in a hotel commonly used for immigration detention. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that it is because of Australia’s strong border policies that they had fewer COVID death rates.
Novak Djokovic COVID Vaccine Exemption Row
The development came after massive outrage erupted over a vaccine exemption Novak Djokovic said he received to play in the tournament. According to reports, 2 independent medical panels organized by Tennis Australia and Victoria state, granted Djokovic this exemption. His lawyers have appealed to the cancellation of the visa in a Federal Court, but reportedly the player would still have to leave the country. Australian forces said that the star failed to provide “appropriate evidence” for entry requirements, so they cancelled his visa. Djokovic also was unable to confirm his vaccination status. According to the tournament rules, all players must get vaccinated.
Djokovic’s Vaccination Stance and Australia’s COVID Situation
Novak Djokovic has previously made a statement that he opposed vaccination. His supporters have condemned the treatment he has been facing. The hotel where Djokovic is held is reportedly infamous for a massive COVID outbreak and a recent fire. Supporters went outside that hotel and expressed anger at the Australian authorities, calling it an “international scandal”. Serbian President Aleksander Vucic said that Djokovic was a victim of “harassment”.
Despite having one of the world’s strongest lockdowns, Australia has faced tens of thousands of COVID cases due to Omicron. More than 90% of its adult population is vaccinated, but rules still restrict citizens from travelling domestically or internationally. Meanwhile, the Australian government has long received criticism for allowing the rich and privileged to do whatever they want, which is why there was a solid response to the news of Djokovic’s exemption.
That Doesn’t Answer Important Questions
Australian Prime Minister appeared to have made his public happy by deciding to deport Novak Djokovic. However, he failed to answer why was he given exemption in the first place. If there was something wrong with his visa application, why did he fly and make it to Melbourne only to get deported again? Also, Djokovic was not the only player to get vaccine exemption as the media were hyping it.
Tennis Australia reportedly said that 26 athletes applied for vaccine exemption. It is unclear who they are and why their cases differ from Djokovic. Clearly, there is a massive disconnection between Federal and state authorities in Australia. Previously, PM Morrison said that it was the state’s decision to make, but now suddenly he remembered that “rules are rules”? Or is just because of Australian anger, which was used to discriminate only Djokovic and ignore the other 26 athletes who may have also received an exemption from the vaccine by state authorities.
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