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Novak Djokovic was denied entry into Australia after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption. Here’s what happened

Novak Djokovic will have a chance to defend his Australia Open title

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in Madrid, Spain.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is pictured after defeating Croatia’s Marin Cilic during their Davis Cup tennis semifinal match at Madrid Arena in Madrid, Spain, on Dec. 3, 2021. Djokovic will look defend his Australia Open tennis title after he received a COVID-19 vaccine exemption, per ESPN.
Bernat Armangue, Associated Press

Novak Djokovic thought he’d have a chance to defend his Australia Open tennis title after he received a COVID-19 vaccine exemption for the tournament. That might not be the case anymore as Australia denied his entry into the country.

Earlier this week, Djokovic received a medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine, according to tournament officials.

  • However, multiple reports suggested Djokovic faced a visa issue upon entering Australia.
  • Then, late Wednesday, Australia denied Djokovic’s entry into the country and his visa was canceled after arriving in Melbourne, according to ESPN.
  • The Australian Border Force said Djokovic failed to provide the right evidence to receive entry. Reports suggested Djokovic’s team might have applied for the wrong visa.
  • The tennis star’s legal team plans to appeal the decision.

The Australian Open currently requires all participants to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or have a medical exemption, which will be handed out by an independent panel of advisers, according to ESPN.

  • “Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” tournament organizers said in a statement. “One of those was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health.”
  • Per The Washington Post, tournament officials said that “a handful” of other players received a medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Previously, the world’s No. 1 tennis player did not reveal his vaccination status. He said he was unsure if he would compete in the Australia Open, which runs Jan. 17 to Jan. 30 in Melbourne.

  • Djokovic announced his plan for exemption in an Instagram post this week.
  • “I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022,” he said on Instagram.

Djokovic received criticism and praise for the decision. His supporters loved the news since he’ll play in the next tournament. However, others said that the medical exemption is a sign that the rules don’t matter.

  • “When you have had ‘the rules’ drummed into you ad nauseam by an overzealous state premier, you will hardly relish the prospect of a multimillionaire tennis player running roughshod over the same procedures,” Oliver Brown, chief sports writer for The Telegraph, wrote.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that it’s not clear if Djokovic will play in the tournament because he still needs to satisfy the Australian government, which is trying to keep their people safe from coronavirus spread, according to Reuters.

Acting Victoria Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said the federal government would not offer a visa for him to enter the country.

  • “The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia,” Pulford said, per Reuters.
  • “We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.”