Australian Open: Djokovic’s visa revoked, Serbian president accuses Australia of mistreatment

Australian Open: Djokovic’s visa revoked, Serbian president accuses Australia of mistreatment

Melbourne: The issue of the participation of Serbian star Novak Djokovic, ranked number one in the world, in the Australian Open, the first of the four Grand Slams, intensified after the cancellation of his entry visa to Australia, despite his arrival at the airport.

In a statement, border officials said Australia had canceled the entry visa for Serbian star Novak Djokovic, the world number one, on Thursday, because he could not meet strict entry requirements.

“Non-citizen arrivals who do not hold a valid visa at entry or whose visas have been canceled will be detained and removed from Australia,” the Australian Border Force said.

And things took an escalating turn after the intervention of the President of Serbia, who on Wednesday accused Australia of “mistreating” Djokovic, as officials in the Victorian state government refused to support the entry visa application submitted by the Serbian star upon his arrival in Melbourne with the aim of participating in the Australian Open.

President Aleksandar Vucic said on Instagram that he spoke with Djokovic on the phone and informed him that “the whole of Serbia is with him and that the country’s authorities are taking all measures in order to end the abuse of the best tennis player in the world as soon as possible.”

“In line with all standards of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, justice and truth,” he added.

– Djokovic ‘stranded’ at the airport –

Victoria’s acting sports minister, Gala Polford, said on Wednesday that her state had rejected a request for assistance and that visa approval was a matter for the federal government.

It was not clear why the state government would need to provide its support, but Australian media reports said the nine-time Australian Open champion may have applied for the wrong type of visa.

According to reports, “Dioko”, who received a medical exemption to participate in the Australian Open, arrived in Melbourne late Wednesday.

“The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia,” Bolford said in a tweet.

“We will not provide individual visa application support for Novak Djokovic to participate in the 2022 Australian Open.”

The Australian newspaper said Djokovic was seeking to enter the country on a work visa “which he believed would require support from the Victorian state government”.

Melbourne’s Edge newspaper said FFF contacted the Victorian government when it realized that Djokovic’s team had requested the “wrong type of visa”.

-angry reactions-

The medical exemption granted to Djokovic sparked angry reactions in the country, as the president of the local game association, Craig Tiley, asked him to reveal the reasons for this exemption, although he did not disclose at all whether he had received a vaccine against the “Covid-19” virus or not.

“It would certainly be useful for Novak to explain the circumstances under which he applied for an exemption” to participate in the tournament scheduled for January 17-30, said Tilley, director of the Australian Open, also in statements to reporters on Wednesday.

He added: “I encourage him to talk to the community about this… We’ve been through a very difficult time over the past two years, and I would appreciate some of the answers.”

For his part, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that he would ask Djokovic to prove that the “medical exemption” he received to participate in the Australian Open was justified, or else he would be returned “to his country with the first plane.”

“We are waiting for him to be presented and for him to provide us with evidence to justify” the exemption, Morrison said at a news conference. If his evidence is insufficient, he will not be treated differently from everyone else, and will return home with the first plane. There will be no special rule for Novak Djokovic, not one.”

– ‘There is no special advantage’ –

The Australian Federation president said that the world’s first ranked player did not receive any preferential treatment to obtain this exemption, during a process supervised by the Australian and Victorian authorities.

He said that 26 players or members of their technical, medical and administrative staff, out of the 3,000 expected to be present in Australia, requested an exemption, and only a few received it.

Tiley insisted that “anyone who meets the conditions for the exemption is allowed entry (into Australia). There was no particular advantage. There was no special treatment for Novak.”

He pointed out that the two committees responsible for examining exemption requests did so without knowing the identity of the applicants.

In addition to the fact that the Australian Open is his favorite tournament, it is his first in his 20 titles in the Grand Slam, when he won it in 2008, and that no player has previously won it nine times.

But “Noli”’s participation in this year’s edition has been under suspicion for many months due to obligating the participants and participants to receive the anti-Covid-19 vaccine, along with those close to them and members of their training and medical staff.

Djokovic has never talked about his vaccination status and spoke in April 2020 that he is against the mandatory vaccination, which was necessary at the time to resume competitions despite the “Covid-19” pandemic.

At the time, during a conversation with several Serbian athletes on his Facebook page, he said: “Personally, I am not for vaccinations. I don’t like people forcing me to get vaccinated to travel.”

Djokovic was granted a “medical exemption” on Tuesday. Australian regulations provide for this type of exemption to be granted in five specific cases, including infection with Covid-19 in the previous six months, serious medical contraindications… But the Australian Football Association resorted to medical confidentiality to determine which of them apply to Djokovic.

– ‘Spit in the face’ –

This announcement in particular provoked negative reactions from some players who denounced double standards, or in some Australian newspaper headlines, in a country where anti-Covid-19 measures have been particularly stringent since the beginning of the epidemic.

Former tennis player-turned-television commentator Sam Groth wrote in a column for the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper that he “spit in the face of any Victorian and any Australian”.

“You mean you have an exemption, but you don’t want to say why? It is disgusting hypocrisy.”

British doubles player Jamie Murray, who is currently participating in the ATP Cup in Sydney, complained: “I think if I had not been vaccinated, I would not have been exempted.”

Prominent Australian doctor Stephen Barnes criticized in a “strong message” on Twitter: “I don’t care if he’s a good tennis player. If he refuses to receive the vaccine, he should not be allowed into the country.”

“If this exemption is valid, it sends a sad message to the millions of people seeking to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Australia for themselves and others,” he added.

(AFP)

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