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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Tennis world reacts to Novak Djokovic’s cancelled Australian visa, politicians point fingers

Novak Djokovic was left stranded after being denied entry into Australia on Thursday.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: January 6, 2022 10:29:53 am
A protestor holds signs outside Park Hotel, where Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is believed to be living, in Melbourne (Source: Reuters)

World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic was left stranded after being denied entry into Australia on Thursday. He was initially being granted a medical exemption from the country’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements so he could play in the Australian Open.

The tennis star, who was supposed to be on his way to a Melbourne hotel, was issued a letter by the Australian government saying his visa had been denied and he would be removed from the country. Australia’s border force later confirmed his visa had been revoked.

The Serbian player was seeking a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam win at the Open starting Jan. 17 but in a dramatic series of events through the Melbourne night, Djokovic, after touching down at Tullamarine airport after a 14-hour flight from Dubai, was ushered into an isolation room under police guard when Australian officials said his visa did not allow for medical exemptions.

According to reuters, the visa and paperwork that Djokovic had used to gain entry into the country was the same as three other players who had already arrived.

The move by the Australian government threatened to cause a diplomatic incident between Canberra and Belgrade and fetched reactions from the political heads of both countries.

“I’ve just finished my telephone conversation with Novak Djokovic,” Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic posted on Instagram. “I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end immediately. In line with all norms of international law, Serbia will fight for Novak, truth and justice. Novak is strong, as we all know.” Vucic had summoned the Australian ambassador in Belgrade and demanded that they immediately release Djokovic to play, Serbian media reported.

Meanwhile, there has been enormous backlash over the decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption from vaccination to play at the Open, leading to finger-pointing between the Prime Minister’s conservative administration and the left-leaning Victorian government led by premier Dan Andrews.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote on Twitter, “Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.”

Here are the top reactions:

DJOKOVIC’S COACH GORAN IVANISEVIC

AUSTRALIAN BORDER FORCE STATEMENT

“Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled.Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry, or who have had their visa cancelled, will be detained and removed from Australia.”

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON

SERBIAN PRESIDENT ALEKSANDAR VUCIC

FORMER AUSTRALIAN OPEN CHIEF EXECUTIVE PAUL MCNAMEE

UKRAINIAN TENNIS PLAYER SERGIY STAKHOVSKY

AMERICAN TENNIS PLAYER TENNYS SANDGREN

TENNIS WRITER BEN ROTHENBERG

Melbourne has endured the world’s longest cumulative lockdown and an outbreak of the Omicron variant has sent case numbers to record levels.

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