Tolerance as Australia bans Djokovic from being vaccinated – SABC News

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World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic was denied entry to Australia on Thursday amid a storm of protests over a decision to grant him medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements to play at the Open from Australia.

The tennis star was rushed to a quarantine hotel in Melbourne after being detained at the city’s airport overnight and told he would be deported from the country later on Thursday, a source told Reuters close to the tournament.

The saga, fueled by the national political score on the country’s handling of a record increase in new COVID-19 infections, has created an international incident with the Serbian president claiming to have harassed his star player.

The Australian Border Force has confirmed that Djokovic’s visa has been revoked, while the source said the player’s lawyers plan to file an injunction to prevent his deportation.

“There are no special cases, the rules are the rules,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a televised press conference.

“We will continue to make the right decisions when it comes to securing Australia’s borders from this pandemic,” Morrison said.

Djokovic, who has consistently refused to disclose his vaccine status while publicly criticizing mandatory vaccines, sparked fury when he said on Instagram that he had received a medical exemption to claim a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam victory at the Open from January 17th.

The announcement sparked an uproar in Australia, particularly in the tournament host city of Melbourne, which suffered the world’s longest cumulative lockdown to ward off the coronavirus.

The Australian adult vaccination rate of around 91% is high by international standards and there is little public sympathy for those who refuse to be vaccinated, as the Omicron variant sends the number of cases to record levels. .

However, the Australian government’s decision to block its entry caused a stir between Canberra and Belgrade.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he spoke with Djokovic to reassure the player “that all of Serbia is with him and our bodies are doing everything to ensure that the harassment of the best tennis player in the world ends immediately”.

“In accordance with all standards of international law, Serbia will fight for Novak, truth and justice,” Vucic said on Twitter.

Morrison said he was aware that “representations had been made” by the Serbian embassy in Canberra and denied the harassment allegations.

“Australia has sovereign borders and clear, non-discriminatory rules,” Morrison said.

Serbian media reported that Vucic summoned the Australian ambassador to Belgrade and demanded that Djokovic be released and allowed to play.

POLICE GUARD

In a series of dramatic events, Djokovic’s father told media in Serbia that his son was brought into an isolation room under police surveillance when he landed at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport around 11:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. GMT ) Wednesday after 2 p.m. flight from Dubai.

His fate was at the center of a political battle in Australia, characterized by finger points between Morrison’s Conservative administration and the left-wing Victorian government led by Prime Minister Dan Andrews.

Under the Australian federal system, states and territories can issue exemptions from vaccination requirements to enter their jurisdictions. However, the federal government controls international borders and can challenge any exemptions granted by states.

Djokovic traveled to Australia after receiving an exemption from the Victorian government, granted after a process that included a panel of health officials. This exemption – the reasons for which are not known – supported his visa issued by the federal government to play at the Australian Open.

On arrival, however, federal border forces officials at the airport said Djokovic was unable to justify the reasons for his exemption.

The Australian working group that sets the exemption parameters lists the risk of severe heart disease due to inoculation and infection with COVID-19 in the past six months as qualifiers. However, Morrison said Thursday that Tennis Australia was told several months ago that a recent infection did not meet the criteria for exemption.

The feuds have eclipsed the fact that daily COVID-19 infections in Australia hit an all-time high for the fourth day in a row, with new cases surpassing 72,000, overwhelming hospitals and causing labor shortages.

Tennis Australia and government officials said Djokovic had not received any preferential treatment, adding that he was one of “a handful” of 26 who applied and who were approved in an anonymous process and independent.

With only 11 days until the start of the Open, a legal challenge could go all the way to the High Court.

ALSO IN ANGRY

The Serb has won nine titles at Melbourne Park, including the last three, but his anti-vaccination stance means he faces a tough crowd to win his tenth in Victoria.

Great Australian tennis player Rod Laver, who gave the main exhibition ground his name, warned Djokovic would likely face hostility.

“I think it could get ugly,” Laver said. News Corp. “I think the Victorian people would think, ‘Yes, I would love to see him play and compete, but at the same time, there is a right and a wrong way.

Paul McNamee, former Australian Open tournament director and tennis professional, said Djokovic had taken the steps required to get a visa and should be allowed to play.

“So he deserves his day in court, not in court, in my opinion,” McNamee told ABC TV.

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