Tennis star Novak Djokovic risks being sent home, says Australian prime minister

Australia’s prime minister has warned Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis participant who has been granted an exemption to play within the Grand Slam match in Melbourne this month, that he will likely be “on the subsequent airplane residence” if he’s unable to indicate why he can’t be vaccinated when he lands.

“If that proof is inadequate, then he gained’t be handled any totally different to anybody else and he’ll be on the subsequent airplane residence,” Scott Morrison informed reporters on Wednesday. “So there ought to be no particular guidelines for Novak Djokovic in any respect. None in anyway.”

He added: “If medical exemptions have been offered by medical professionals and that’s been furnished to him as a proviso for him to get on that airplane, effectively, that must stack up when he arrives in Australia.”

Djokovic, the defending Australian Open males’s champion, has opposed necessary Covid-19 vaccination. The choice to permit him an exemption to enter the nation as an unvaccinated particular person has triggered a livid response from well being authorities and the general public in Australia. The nation’s Covid numbers have soared to data whereas its testing system has come below pressure.

Tennis Australia mentioned on Wednesday {that a} medical exemption had been granted to Djokovic after a “rigorous evaluate course of” by two unbiased panels of consultants together with one appointed by the well being division in Victoria, the state through which the Australian Open is held.

Djokovic, who has refused to substantiate his vaccination standing, mentioned in a social media publish on his method to Melbourne that the exemption had been granted. He’ll nonetheless need to quarantine.

Nevertheless, the Australian authorities issued a stern risk that the exemption wouldn’t assure his entry into Australia. Karen Andrews, the minister for residence affairs, mentioned Djokovic and any gamers who’ve been granted an exemption would want to offer “acceptable proof” that they can’t be vaccinated for medical causes, in step with different travellers coming into Australia.

“Australian Border Power will proceed to make sure that those that arrive at our border adjust to our strict border necessities,” she mentioned. “No particular person competing on the Australian Open will likely be afforded any particular therapy.”

Craig Tiley, the Australian Open match director, defended the choice to exempt Djokovic and a handful of different gamers, which had gone “above and past” the usual immigration course of for unvaccinated travellers into Australia. “In the end it’s the choice of the medical consultants,” he mentioned.

He reiterated that different gamers, followers and workers on the tennis competitors should be totally vaccinated “except there’s a real motive why an exemption ought to be granted” to make sure the security of individuals.

That provoked a robust response in Victoria. The state internet hosting the tennis match has lately emerged from among the world’s most stringent lockdown restrictions whereas the federal government there has mandated that some staff should be totally vaccinated.

Native media have dubbed Djokovic “Novax” and made comparisons with the restrictions positioned on the England and Australian cricket gamers competing on this summer season’s Ashes collection in Australia.

Stephen Parnis, a doctor and former vice-president of the Australian Medical Affiliation, mentioned on social media that the choice to permit Djokovic to play despatched “an appalling message to tens of millions” looking for to cut back the danger of Covid.

“I don’t care how good a tennis participant he’s,” mentioned Parnis. “If he’s refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn’t be allowed in.”


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