Officials said Australian authorities cancelled the visa of the world’s number one tennis player Novak Djokovic on Thursday because he failed to provide appropriate evidence that he was exempt from the requirement that foreigners be vaccinated.
The decision was made after the Serbian player was interrogated by federal officials at Melbourne Airport overnight. People were generally outraged at the time because he was granted a medical exemption for COVID vaccination to participate in the Australian Open.
“Novak Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on the Australian Breakfast News program sunrise“Obviously, this is after reviewing the exemption provided through the Victorian government process. They are studying the completeness and the evidence behind it.”
“Whether he wants to appeal this is his question, but if the visa is cancelled, someone will have to leave the country,” he added.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that the decision was made out of a desire to remain vigilant about the pandemic.
A source told BuzzFeed News that Djokovic and his coaching team were still at the airport and planned to file a legal appeal, but they did not expect to succeed.
The source said: “They are expected to take the flight home later in the day.”
This Highest ranking The singles tennis player, who is seeking a record 21st Grand Slam title, was questioned by border officials for several hours after landing late Wednesday, Australian time.
according to Reuters, His father told the Serbian media that the player was asked to be alone in a room at the airport, under armed guard, waiting for the final decision.
Djokovic coach Goran Ivanisevic posted: “This is not the most common trip to Australia” Instagram From the airport around 5 a.m.
Djokovic’s beliefs and actions made headlines throughout the pandemic. In April 2020, he said he was Against vaccines And he didn’t want to be required to receive injections just to travel.A few months later, he and his wife New coronavirus tests positive After he organized and participated in an exhibition match that ignored social distancing advice. In October 2021, he said that the question about his vaccination status was “improper. “
On Tuesday, the defending champion of the tournament posted on social media that he had received an “exempt permission” to travel to Australia, which surprised many people.But as Melbourne’s Epoch It was initially reported that it was unclear whether the tennis player had carried enough evidence to justify his exemption.
According to Australian law, foreigners entering the country must hold a visa and Fully inoculatedOfficials from the Australian Tennis Association and Victoria, where Melbourne is based, have made similar demands for players who want to participate in the Open without first undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
But Australian immunization officials outlined some Temporary vaccine exemption Its citizens, including people who have been infected with a PCR-confirmed COVID case in the past six months. It is not clear whether these apply to foreigners seeking to enter Australia, but tennis officials pointed out these exemptions in their decision to allow Djokovic to participate.
Djokovic received immunity from the match in Melbourne, The longest blockade in the world As Australia tried to keep COVID cases at zero before widespread vaccination, this caused strong protests in the country.
Tennis and Victorian officials emphasized that his application went through a “double-blind” review process, but most of the Australian public and media opposed the decision.
“I don’t care how good his tennis players are. If he refuses to be vaccinated, he should not be allowed in,” wrote Stephen Parnis, the former vice president of the Australian Medical Association. Twitter.
When asked about the tennis player’s exemption at a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters that Djokovic needed to “provide acceptable evidence” to prove that he could not be vaccinated for medical reasons.
“We await his statement and what evidence he provides us to support this,” Morrison Say“If the evidence is insufficient, then he will not be treated differently from anyone else, and he will take the next flight home.”
On Wednesday, the Morrison government said that they would express their opinions on whether to allow Djokovic to enter the country.
“Although the Victorian government and the Australian Tennis Association may allow unvaccinated players to participate in the Australian Open, the federal government will enforce our requirements at the Australian border,” Interior Minister Karen Andrews said in a statement. statement The title is “Australia’s border rules apply to everyone”.
Andrews said: “Anyone participating in the Australian Open will not receive any special treatment.”
Health Secretary Hunter stated that these rules are strict but fair. “Australians have to deal with it hard,” Hunter said. “Many Australians in different states and territories have to show their vaccination records in some cases to enter premises, cafes and other places, and have exactly the same Vaccines are not unreasonable. It is a requirement for everyone who enters this country.”