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Why Novak Djokovic Was Blocked From Coming into Australia

Novak Djokovic, the highest participant in males’s tennis and its main vaccine skeptic, was stopped on the border in Melbourne late Wednesday after flying from Dubai to defend his Australian Open title.

State authorities and Australian tennis officers had granted Mr. Djokovic an exemption from Covid vaccination guidelines that might enable him to compete within the occasion. However upon his arrival, federal border officers stated that Mr. Djokovic didn’t meet the nation’s necessities for entry as a result of he was unvaccinated, they usually canceled his visa. He filed a authorized attraction on Thursday.

The exemption had stirred anger in Australia, which has enforced robust guidelines to stop the unfold of the coronavirus and has maintained one of many world’s lowest Covid demise charges. Residents who endured lengthy lockdowns, and for months confronted strict limits on leaving or returning to the nation, demanded to know if Mr. Djokovic had been given particular remedy.

Mr. Djokovic’s limbo seems to be rooted in confusion over the exemption granted by Australian tennis officers and native authorities in Victoria, the state the place the event is held. The exemption was believed to have been accredited due to Mr. Djokovic’s earlier coronavirus infections — grounds that federal officers had warned have been invalid.

Right here’s a take a look at how the standoff has unfolded:

Mr. Djokovic has obtained scrutiny for his unscientific beliefs, together with his assertion that constructive feelings can purify poisonous water or meals. He has been dismissive towards the pandemic and stated vaccinations shouldn’t be mandated for journey.

In June 2020, with tennis and different sports activities paused due to the coronavirus, he organized a charity event in his native Serbia and close by Croatia. Masks and social distancing have been minimal, and several other gamers, together with Mr. Djokovic, later examined constructive for the coronavirus.

Mr. Djokovic has received the final three Australian Opens, and 9 total. However his vaccine stance put doubtful his skill to defend his title.

Final yr, the Australian Open stated individuals must be totally vaccinated, in step with necessities for coming into the nation. Mr. Djokovic’s participation was seen as unlikely till he announced on Tuesday that he would play after receiving an exemption.

He didn’t say why he had obtained the exemption; neither did Australian tennis officers. However they defined that 26 individuals who had utilized for a vaccine waiver had had their requests reviewed by panels of medical officers from each Tennis Australia and the state of Victoria. A small quantity have been granted.

The requests have been reviewed underneath pointers from an official authorities advisory physique on vaccinations. The group listed several possible reasons for exemptions, together with a Covid-19 an infection inside the final six months, inflammatory cardiac sickness, or acute medical circumstances reminiscent of main surgical procedure.

Mr. Djokovic’s utility was primarily based on a latest an infection, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Mr. Djokovic’s exemption was denounced by many in Australia because the Omicron variant has pushed a leap in new instances and residents have confronted lengthy delays in testing.

After Mr. Djokovic arrived in Melbourne, he was questioned for hours on the airport earlier than being despatched to a quarantine lodge. Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, who has confronted criticism over the federal government’s Covid response in latest days, introduced that Mr. Djokovic’s entry had been denied.

“Guidelines are guidelines, particularly in the case of our borders,” Mr. Morrison wrote on Twitter. “Nobody is above these guidelines.”

In November, Greg Hunt, the Australian well being minister, stated in a letter to Craig Tiley, the pinnacle of Tennis Australia, that individuals who had contracted Covid-19 and had not been totally vaccinated wouldn’t qualify for quarantine-free entry.

Mr. Hunt added that the grounds for an exemption, reminiscent of a latest an infection, are meant “for home functions solely — reminiscent of interstate journey, or assembly office vaccination necessities — and doesn’t apply within the context of worldwide borders.”

It was not clear why Tennis Australia and the Victoria authorities then granted Mr. Djokovic the exemption.

Mr. Morrison stated on Thursday that there had “not essentially” been any drawback with Australia’s preliminary granting of a visa to Mr. Djokovic, and that it was as much as vacationers with visas to point out proof of full vaccination on the border.

Mr. Djokovic filed an attraction in federal courtroom in Victoria, and he shall be allowed to stay within the nation no less than till Monday as he awaits a listening to. It was additionally unclear if quarantine remained an choice, or whether or not Mr. Djokovic would settle for it. The event begins in 11 days, ahead of Australia’s standard two-week quarantine.

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