Novak Djokovic is refused entry to Australia due to visa problem

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MELBOURNE – Novak Djokovic has been stranded at an Australian airport overnight, caught in a political maelstrom over whether to honor the world’s No. 1 medical exemption from vaccine requirements or send him home due to a visa error.

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Djokovic landed at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport around 11:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday after a 14-hour flight from Dubai.

But he was still awaiting permission to enter the country to play the Australian Open after it emerged his team had applied for a visa that does not allow medical exemptions.

This prompted the local government in Victoria, the state where the Open is played, to say it would not support Djokovic’s candidacy, putting his fate in the hands of the federal government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, told Serbian media that his son was waiting alone in an airport room under armed guard for a final decision on his entry into the country.

Morrison faced a huge backlash following his government’s decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption from vaccination to play at the Open, where the player would bid for a record-breaking 21st major title.

Australia, especially the state of Victoria, has suffered the longest cumulative lockdown in the world and an outbreak of the Omicron variant has sent the number of cases to record levels.

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After the backlash, Morrison suggested that Djokovic’s involvement was not a done deal and that he should satisfy the federal government, which is responsible for international borders and visas and was not part of the exemption process.

Morrison said shortly before Djokovic’s arrival that there would be “no special rules” for him regarding his exemption.

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“If that evidence is insufficient, then he will not be treated any differently from the others and he will be on the next plane back,” Morrison said at a press conference earlier.

VISA BUNGLE

Djokovic arrived on an Emirates flight, but when border officials reached out to the Victorian government to ask if the state would officially support the world’s number one visa, he said no.

“The federal government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia,” Victoria Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said.

“We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual assistance with visa applications to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.

“We have always been clear on two points: visa approvals are the responsibility of the federal government and medical exemptions are the responsibility of physicians. “

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It was not clear whether the federal government would allow its entry. The Border Force did not respond to a request for comment.

Tennis Australia and government officials intervened quickly to point out that Djokovic, who said he opposed COVID-19 vaccinations, had not received any preferential treatment.

ALSO IN ANGRY

The Serb, who previously refused to disclose his vaccination status, has won nine titles at Melbourne Park, including the last three. He confirmed on Tuesday that he had received a vaccination exemption to allow him to play at the Australian Open, which begins on January 17.

Great Australian tennis player Rod Laver, who gave his name to the main showcourt in Melbourne Park in Victoria, has warned that Djokovic could face hostility from the local crowd.

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“I think it could get ugly,” Laver told News Corp. path.’

“Yeah, you’re a great player and you’ve played and won so many tournaments, so it can’t be physical. So what’s the problem?”

Melbourne local Christine Wharton said it was a “disgrace”.

“We all did the right thing, we all went out and had our jabs and our boosters, and we have someone coming from overseas and all of a sudden he was exempt and can play. , and I think it’s an absolute shame and I won’t watch it.

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