Djokovic’s beliefs and behavior have made headlines throughout the pandemic. In April 2020, he said he was against vaccines and that he would not want to have to be vaccinated to travel. A few months later, he and his wife tested positive for COVID after hosting and playing in exhibition matches that flouted social distancing recommendations. In October 2021, he said questions about his vaccination status were “inappropriate.”
The defending tournament champion surprised more than one Tuesday when he posted on social media that he had obtained “exemption permission” to travel to Australia. But, like Melbourne age diary first reported, it was unclear whether Djokovic had provided enough evidence to prove his reason for the exemption.
Under Australian law, foreigners traveling to the country must have a visa and be fully vaccinated. Tennis Australia and officials in Victoria, where Melbourne is located, imposed similar requirements on players who wanted to take part in the Open without first undertaking a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
But Australian immunization officials had described some temporary vaccine exemptions for its citizens, which includes people who have had a PCR-confirmed case of COVID in the past six months. It is not clear whether these apply to foreigners seeking to enter Australia, but tennis officials had highlighted these exemptions in their decision to allow Djokovic to participate.
That Djokovic got an exemption to play in Melbourne, who endured one of the longest confinements in the world as Australia sought to keep COVID cases to zero ahead of widespread vaccination, caused massive outcry in the country.
Tennis and Victoria officials stressed his candidacy had undergone a ‘double-blind’ review process, but large sections of the Australian public and media opposed the decision.
“I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. If he refuses to be vaccinated he shouldn’t be allowed in,” wrote Stephen Parnis, former vice-president of the Australian Medical Association. . Twitter.
Asked about the tennis player’s exemption at a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters that Djokovic would have to “provide acceptable evidence” for his claim that he could not be vaccinated for medical reasons. medical.
“We await his presentation and the evidence he provides to support this,” Morrison said. said. “If this evidence is insufficient, he will not be treated differently from others and he will take the next plane home.”
On Wednesday, Morrison’s government indicated it would have a say in whether Djokovic would be allowed into the country.
“While the Victorian Government and Tennis Australia may allow an unvaccinated player to play at the Australian Open, it is the Commonwealth Government that will enforce our requirements at the Australian border,” the Home Secretary said. Karen Andrews in a statement. statement titled “Australian border rules apply to everyone”.
“No Australian Open attendee will get special treatment,” Andrews said.
Hunt, the health minister, said the rules were tough but fair. “Australians have had to do it tough,” Hunt said, “and Australians from many different states and territories have had to show their vaccination records in some cases to enter premises, cafes and other things, and it is not unreasonable to have exactly the same requirement for everyone entering this country.”