Djokovic and 2 others now in Australian Open visa drama

Novak Djokovic is not the only one who has had his visa revoked after flying to the Australian Open without the necessary evidence to support the country’s strict medical exemption. COVID-19 Vaccination rules.

Djokovic was denied entry upon arrival at Melbourne’s airport on Wednesday and was in an immigration detention hotel on Friday, awaiting a court hearing challenging his deportation, when the Australian Border Force confirmed that action had been taken against two others.

In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Seema Bal said that after investigating two other cases involving people linked to the Australian Open, “one person has voluntarily left Australia … and the third person’s visa has been revoked.” “

The ABF said one person had been taken into immigration custody pending deportation, but declined to give details or comment further.

The Embassy of the Czech Republic in Canberra identified 38-year-old doubles player Renata Vorasova as one of those involved.

“Renata Vorasova has decided to leave Australia as soon as possible and will not participate in the tournament in Melbourne,” the Czech embassy said.

Initially, the Victorian state government planned a no-vaccine, no-play policy for tennis majors before the season at Melbourne Park, but this changed when the medical exemption option was issued late last year. .

The organizers of the Australian Open and the state government agreed to two independent panels of medical experts to assess applications for exemptions. Names, ages and nationalities were removed from each application for privacy reasons, and the panel took the supplied information at face value.

A problem has emerged since then: guidelines for state-backed assessments for exemptions for tournaments – where it mandates that all players, staff, fans and officials must show proof of full vaccination. coronavirus – and the national requirements for entry into Australia were different.

Australian media reported this week that the Department of Health wrote to Tennis Australia last November that people with a coronavirus infection in the past six months would not be grounds for a medical exemption under national COVID-19 rules. Obviously, not all players were informed of this.

Critics of the Medicare exemption have said that if there were no loopholes, there would be no confusion.

Djokovic, who is seeking a men’s record 21st major singles title, has been a vaccine skeptic and refused to acknowledge whether he had shots for COVID-19.

His appearance at the Australian Open, where he is a nine-time champion, was up in the air for months due to Australia’s strict vaccination requirements.

Djokovic’s social media post on Tuesday that he had received permission for a waiver and was headed to Melbourne sparked some outrage in Australia, where people imposed months of lockdown during the pandemic and closed state and international borders.

But Australian Open tournament director Craig Tilly defended a “perfectly valid application and process” for a medical exemption and insisted there was no special treatment for Djokovic.

Tilly said 26 people associated with the tournament had applied for medical exemptions, but only a “handful” were allowed. No one was publicly identified at the time, except for Djokovic, who noted it on social media. Now three of them are either in custody or have gone.

The organizers of the Australian Open have not made any official comment on the visa process or medical exemption since Wednesday.