Novak Djokovic’s ‘medical exemption’ for entry into Australia to play in the first grand slam of the year, has provoked a huge backlash which will not enhance his reputation amongst tennis fans and in particular, Australians who have undergone a virtual two-year lockdown.
We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam. Jaala Pulford, Victoria Acting Sports Minister
His Instagram message posted yesterday with a photo of him alongside his baggage wearing a satisfied smile did not go down well and it would seem that his entry into Australia, has now run into visa difficulties with their Border Force!
On landing in Melbourne, Djokovic and his team are allegedly trying to enter into the country with a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated and when Border Force contacted government officials to sponsor the visa, they refused to do so!
As Sky Sports revealed, the Victoria Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford tweeted: “The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia.
“We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.
“We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors.”
Australia’s minister for home affairs Karen Andrews, was a little more on the point.
“Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our strict border requirements,” her statement read.
“No individual competing at the Australian Open will be afforded any special treatment.”
This would all be in line with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments following the news of Djokovic’s ‘exemption’ and the very negative local reaction to it leading to the possibility of boycotts.
He said Djokovic would be “on the next plane home” if the evidence for his ‘medical exemption’ was not satisfactory.
“There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all, none whatsoever,” PM Morrison said.
“He has to because if he’s not vaccinated, he must provide acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and to be able to access the same travel arrangements, as fully vaccinated travellers.”
Rules in Victoria, where the Australian Open will begin on January 17, stated that players, staff and fans must be double-vaccinated against Covid-19.
But Djokovic still remains reticent on the subject and for a man who is desperate to win over public affection, it is surprising that he can’t see that his silence is doing him more harm than good.
Meanwhile Tournament director Craig Tiley is caught in the middle though he is pushing for Djokovic to come clean and declare on what basis he has applied for an ‘exemption’.
“We completely understand and empathise that some would have been upset by the fact that Novak Djokovic has come in because of his statements around vaccination in the past couple of years,” Tiley told reporters.
“We would love…Novak to talk about it and help us with it, but ultimately it’s going to be up to him.
“We aren’t in a position, even legally, to disclose other people’s medical information.”