Australian authorities revoked the visa of the world’s No. 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic, on Thursday after he failed to provide proper evidence about his exemption from rules requiring foreigners to be vaccinated, officials said.
The decision was made after the Serbian player was questioned overnight at Melbourne airport by federal officials amid widespread anger under Dawn that he had been given a medical exemption from a COVID vaccination to play in the Australian Open.
“Novak Djokovic’s visa has been revoked,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on a news program on Australian Breakfast. Sunrise. “Obviously this comes after a review of the exemption that was made available through the Victorian government process. They were looking at the integrity and the evidence behind it.”
“It is up to him whether he wants to appeal that, but if the visa is revoked, someone will have to leave the country,” he added.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision was made out of a desire to remain vigilant about the pandemic.
A source told BuzzFeed News that Djokovic and his coaching staff are still at the airport and plan to file a legal appeal, but they did not expect success.
“They are expecting to be on the repatriation flight later in the day,” the source said.
the in the first place The singles tennis player, who is seeking a record 21st Grand Slam record, was questioned by border officials for several hours after landing late on Wednesday Australian time.
according to ReutersHis father told Serbian media that the player was forced to wait alone in an airport room under armed guard pending the final decision.
“It’s not the usual trip down,” said Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic. Instagram From the airport around 5 am
Djokovic’s beliefs and behavior have made headlines throughout the pandemic. In April 2020, he said it is against vaccines And he didn’t want to be asked for a chance to travel. Only months later, he and his wife Tested positive for COVID After he organized and played in exhibition matches, he violated social distancing recommendations. In October 2021, he said that questions about his vaccination status were “inappropriate. “
The defending champions surprised many people on Tuesday when he posted on social media that he had been granted an “exempt permit” to travel to Australia. But, like Melbourne Al-Omar newspaper In the first report, it was not clear whether Djokovic had provided sufficient evidence to establish the reason for his exoneration.
Under Australian law, foreigners traveling to the country must obtain and be a visa Fully vaccinated. Tennis Australia and officials in Victoria, where Melbourne is located, have set similar requirements for players who wanted to take part in the Open tournament without first undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
But Australian immunization officials have identified a few things Temporary Vaccine Exemptions to its citizens, which includes people who have had a confirmed case of PCR for COVID in the past six months. It is not clear if it applies to foreigners seeking to enter Australia, but tennis officials have noted these exceptions in their decision to allow Djokovic to participate.
That Djokovic obtained an exemption to play in Melbourne, which holds one of The longest shutdown in the world At a time when Australia has sought to keep COVID cases at zero before widespread vaccination, it has caused a major outcry in the country.
Tennis and Victoria officials confirmed his application had undergone a “double-blind” review process, but large sections of the Australian public and the media decried the decision.
“I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. Former Australian Medical Association Vice President Stephen Barnes wrote in Twitter.
Asked about the tennis player’s exemption at a news conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters that Djokovic would need to “provide reasonable evidence” of his claim he could not be vaccinated for medical reasons.
“We are waiting for his presentation and what evidence does he give us to support that,” Morrison He said. “If this evidence is insufficient, he will not be treated any differently than everyone else, and he will be on the next plane back home.”
On Wednesday, Morrison’s government indicated it would have a say in whether Djokovic would be allowed into the country.
“While the Victorian and Australian Tennis Government may allow an unvaccinated player to compete in the Australian Open, it is the Commonwealth Government that will enforce our requirements at the Australian border,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said in a statement. statment Entitled ‘Australia’s Border Rules Apply to Everyone’.
“No one who competes in the Australian Open will get any special treatment,” Andrews said.
Health Minister Hunt said the rules were strict but fair. Hunt said: “Australians have had to do this with difficulty, Australians in many different states and territories have had to show their vaccination records in some cases to enter buildings, cafes and other things, and it is not unreasonable that they have exactly the same requirement for everyone who enters this Country “.