Djokovic denied entry into Australia after visa canceled

Sydney, Jan 6 (EFE).- Australian authorities canceled the visa of Novak Djokovic, tennis’ world No. 1, following his arrival in Melbourne for the first major tournament of 2022.

Thursday’s decision came after an hours-long standoff at Melbourne’s airport, where authorities denied the Serbian entry due to a problem with his visa application.

In a statement, the Australian Border Force said Djokovic “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently canceled.”

“The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements,” it added. “Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa canceled will be detained and removed from Australia.”

Although the 34-year-old superstar tweeted on Tuesday that he had been granted a medical exemption from being vaccinated against Covid-19, he was held at the airport due to an error in his visa application.

The decision means he will not be able to compete in this month’s Australian Open, a Grand Slam tournament held annually in Melbourne that he has won a record nine times.

The move also could have historical ramifications, considering that the Serbian is tied with fellow tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 major titles apiece and would become the winningest men’s player of all time if he captures a 10th championship Down Under.

Djokovic’s lawyers plan to appeal the decision, according to local dailies Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Besides the error in his visa application, the government of Victoria state, where Melbourne is located, indicated there were doubts about the medical reasons put forth by the tennis star to receive the exemption.

Djokovic reportedly said in seeking the waiver that he had contracted Covid-19 in the six months prior to the start of the Australian Open, which is scheduled to run from Jan. 17 to Jan. 30.

An inability to be vaccinated due to Covid-19 infection within the most recent six-month period is one of the reasons travelers entering Australia may be temporarily exempted from the government’s strict vaccination requirement.

Djokovic has not said whether he is inoculated or not against the coronavirus but stated last year that he is personally opposed to vaccinations in general and is against vaccine mandates.

If Djokovic does not play the Australian Open, it will mark the first time he has missed that Grand Slam tournament since he made his debut there in 2005.

Tennis Australia, which organizes the event, defended Djokovic’s expected participation following his tweet on Tuesday, saying his exemption was the result of a rigorous process carried out by two independent panels of medical experts and was in line with government guidelines.

The Serbian tennis star’s announcement that an exemption had been granted caused some outrage in Australia.

Stephen Parnis, a Melbourne emergency physician and former vice-president of the Australian Medical Association, said it was an “appalling” decision.

“I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. If he’s refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn’t be allowed in,” he wrote on Twitter. “If this exemption is true, it sends an appalling message to millions seeking to reduce #COVID19Aus risk to themselves & others. #Vaccination shows respect, Novak.”

Australia has implemented some of the toughest measures in the world against the pandemic, while Melbourne has spent lengthy periods in strict lockdown.

The country has seen an Omicron-driven surge in confirmed Covid-19 cases in the weeks prior to the start of this year’s tournament, with cases nearly tripling from around 212,000 accumulated cases on Dec. 1 to more than 610,000 this week. EFE


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