After more than eight hours of being held at Melbourne’s Tullamarine International Airport, Novak Djokovic did not receive permission from the Australian authorities to enter the country to play the Australian Open and must return to Serbia on the next flight , as reported by the Australian site The Age.
“Novak Djokovic’s visa has been canceled. He has been told to leave the country today, two sources confirmed to The Age. His attorneys are in the process of appeal. He has not shown the Border Force sufficient evidence for his medical exemption, “said journalist Paul Sakkal, who followed the case since the early hours of the morning.
It remains to be seen whether, while his lawyers seek to reverse this decision, Nole will wait at the airport or request some kind of accommodation from the Australian government.
Although the 34-year-old tennis player had processed the exemption that allowed him to play the tournament without being vaccinated, there was a problem with his visa for which he could not step on the territory of the oceanic country. It is that the government of the state of Victoria reported that it had rejected an application to sponsor his visa, hours before he landed in Melbourne around 11.30 pm
For this reason, as soon as he got off the plane, the Serbian was escorted by Border Force agents to an isolated room where he was interrogated for several hours without access to his cell phone. Meanwhile, her team waited for everything to be resolved on the other side of the door, escorted by two officers.
The plane that carried the Serbian, number 1 in the ATP ranking, landed around 11:30 p.m. at the Tullamarine International Airport in Melbourne, Victoria, but the athlete had not yet been enabled to cross migration borders, his cell phone was taken away and he was being interrogated by Border Force agents in a room at the site.
The team that traveled with him had to wait in another part of the airport while two security agents guarded the room where the 34-year-old athlete was. Meanwhile, his father Srdjan Djokovic threatened the situation: “My son has been captive for 5 hours. It is a fight for freedom in the world, it is not just a Novak fight. If they don’t let him go in half an hour we will hit the streets. It is a fight for everyone ”, in statements made to the Serbian media and broadcast by the Australian television program Sunrise on Channel 7.
The scandal also exploded in Serbia. The president of the republic, Aleksandar Vucic, reported that he was able to contact the tennis player: “I just finished a telephone conversation with Novak Djokovic. I told our Novak that all of Serbia is with him and that our authorities are taking all measures to stop the harassment of the best tennis player in the world in the shortest possible time. In accordance with all the norms of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth ”. These words were known minutes before the decision was made to cancel the athlete’s visa.
In turn, different media in the European country had denounced that the player was incommunicado, since they had prevented him from using his cell phone and having contact with his staff. “They treat him like a criminal,” said The Telegraph newspaper. “The Australian Border Force contacted the state government after learning of a problem with the visa presented by Djokovic’s team,” said the aforementioned media, which clarified that the tennis player tried to enter the country “with a visa that does not allow exemptions. doctors for not being vaccinated ”, according to the sources contacted.
For its part, Tennis Australia, in charge of the sports organization, had confirmed that the vast majority of the requests they received for medical exemptions from players were made by people who had coronavirus in the last six months. The newspaper The Age, which replied to the versions of three high-level sources who decided to provide information off the record, clarified that it was “highly probable” that Djokovic’s exemption was granted “for that reason.”
However, the federal government had doubts about whether there was adequate documentation to demonstrate the rationale for its exemption, evidence that must be presented at the borders by those who are not vaccinated.
The 34-year-old player was at the center of criticism because last Tuesday he announced on his social networks that he had received special permission to play the first major tournament on the circuit of the season. “I had a fantastic quality time with my loved ones during the holidays and today I am heading to Australia with an exemption permit,” he wrote in a post on his Instagram along with a photo of his suitcases. Although it was not clarified on what point Nole relied on to demand this special authorization, the regulations propose five possible arguments to make before the expert committee.
The event became a political issue in Australia, to the point that hours before his arrival in the country Prime Minister Scott Morrison left him a strong warning: “We are awaiting your presentation and the evidence you provide to support it. . If those tests are insufficient, you will not be treated differently from others and you will be on the next plane home. There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. “
The Australian Border Force (ABF) sought the go-ahead from the Victorian government to authorize their entry and the entity required federal authorities to put the request in writing, but ultimately rejected the option of sponsoring Djokovic’s visa.
“The federal government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia. We will not provide Novak Djokovic with individual visa application assistance to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam. We have always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the federal government and medical exemptions are a matter. of the doctors ”, announced on her Twitter account the Minister of Sports, Jaala Pulford.
Added to this was a statement signed by the Minister of Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, in which it stated: “Any individual seeking to enter Australia must comply with our strict border requirements.” Beyond the ok that Djokovic had received to play the tournament by the local body in charge of tennis and the government of Victoria – the state where the contest will be held – the Commonwealth government is in charge of enforcing the requirements to allow the crossing from the national border.
The world number 1 came to Australia with the mission of defending the title he won in the last three editions. In addition, if he won it, he would have surpassed the 20 Grand Slams mark that he shares today with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The truth is that while this entire event of global resonance happens, Australians queue up to nine hours to undergo a coronavirus test due to the high demand for the rebound in infections in the country, which this Wednesday reported almost 65,000 infections and 19 deceased.
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