Australia denies visa to Djokovic, PM Morrison says 'rules are rules'

Djokovic is seeking to defend his title in 2022. (David Gray/AFP/Getty Images)

On Thursday, tennis champion Novak Djokovic was denied admission to Australia after spending over nine hours in a Melbourne airport.

"It's tough, but it's fair." Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt remarked.

According to Reuters, the tennis player would seek a federal restraining order against the judgment. Later that day, an Australian court announced that an injunction hearing would be held in the afternoon local time.

Why was Djokovic's admission denied?

During a press conference Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Djokovic failed to present sufficient evidence at the airport to obtain a medical exemption allowing him to enter Australia without being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Morrison continued by stating that Djokovic had not been "singled out."

"All I can say is that the evidence for medical exemption that was provided was found to be insufficient," Morrison said.

The Australian Open will take place between January 17 and January 30. The organizers have mandated that players be vaccinated entirely or have an appropriate medical exemption from participating.

Australia has strict COVID entrance requirements, requiring visitors to be fully vaccinated against the virus.

According to Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley, exceptional circumstances allowed select persons to enter the nation, including those who had recovered from the virus within the last six months or those who were unable to acquire a vaccine due to an acute medical condition.

Morrison stated on Wednesday that Djokovic would need to "provide acceptable proof" that he cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons.

"If that evidence is insufficient, then he won't be treated any different to anyone else, and he'll be on the next plane home," Morrison said.

Tiley stated that 26 persons applied for exemptions, but few were granted.

Skepticism toward vaccines

Djokovic, an avowed vaccination skeptic, stated Tuesday that he fell into one of those categories and would compete.

There was a strong reaction in Australia to the decision to exempt Djokovic, with many residents across the country, particularly in Melbourne, facing some of the world's tightest lockdown restrictions during the pandemic's final two years.

Djokovic's hopes of defending his title are now at risk due to the admittance denial.

Serbian President Aleksander Vucic offered some encouragement late Wednesday to the 20-time major winner.

"Serbia is doing everything to see that the harassment of Novak Djokovic is brought to an end immediately," Vucic added.

"Rules are rules."

On Twitter following Thursday's announcement, Prime Minister Morrison stated that "rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders."

"There should be no exceptions for Novak Djokovic. None at all, "Morrison stated earlier in the day during a news conference.

Publish : 2022-01-06 16:57:00

Give Your Comments