Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

Australian Prime Minister Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis player who was granted a release to play in Melbourne’s Grand Slam tournament this month, warned he would be “on the next plane home” if he could not show why he can not. vaccinated when he lands.

“If that evidence is insufficient, he will not be treated any differently from anyone else and will be on the next plane home,” Scott Morrison told reporters on Wednesday. “There should therefore be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. Nothing at all. ”

He added: “If medical exemptions were provided by medical professionals and it was provided to him as a reservation for him to get on that plane, well, it’s going to have to pile up when he arrives in Australia.”

Djokovic, the defending Australian Open men’s champion, opposed mandatory Covid-19 vaccination. The decision to allow him an exemption to enter the country as an unvaccinated person provoked an angry reaction from health authorities and the public in Australia. The country’s Covid numbers rose to records as its testing system came under pressure.

Tennis Australia said on Wednesday that Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption following a “rigorous review process” by two independent panels of experts, including one appointed by the Department of Health in Victoria, the state in which the Australian Open is being held.

Djokovic, who refused to confirm his vaccination status, said in a social media post on the way to Melbourne that the release was granted. He will still have to go into quarantine.

However, the Australian government has made a stern threat that the exemption will not guarantee its entry into Australia. Home Secretary Karen Andrews said Djokovic and any players who were released would have to provide “acceptable evidence” that they could not be vaccinated for medical reasons, in line with other travelers entering Australia.

“Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those arriving at our border meet our strict border requirements,” she said. “No individual participating in the Australian Open will be given any special treatment.”

Craig Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director, defended the decision to release Djokovic and a handful of other players, which went “above and beyond” the standard immigration process for unvaccinated travelers to Australia. “Ultimately, it’s the decision of the medical experts,” he said.

He reiterated that other players, supporters and staff at the tennis competition should be fully vaccinated “unless there is a genuine reason why an exemption should be granted” to ensure the safety of participants.

This provoked a strong reaction in Victoria. The state that hosts the tennis tournament recently came out of some of the world’s strictest lock-up restrictions, while the government there has mandated that some workers be vaccinated in full.

Local media dubbed Djokovic “Novax” and drew comparisons with the restrictions placed on the English and Australian cricketers taking part in this summer’s Ashes series in Australia.

Stephen Parnis, a physician and former vice president of the Australian Medical Association, said on social media that the decision to allow Djokovic to play had sent a “terrifying message to millions” who were trying to reduce the risk of Covid to reduce.

“I do not care how good a tennis player he is,” said Parnis. “If he refuses to be vaccinated, he should not be allowed.”

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