World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic has ruled the Australian Open for more than a decade and won nine titles at the first grand slam of the calendar year. But 2022 will be the first year he will not play a grand slam tournament since 2005.
After arriving in Melbourne on Wednesday, Djokovic was stopped by Australian border control due to an error in his medical exemption. Djokovic’s chances for this year’s three-month grand slam are being talked about months after Australia announced that players would have to be vaccinated to enter the country. The 20-time Grand Slam winner is notoriously against vaccination against COVID-19, although his vaccination status is still not public.
Australian Open Prime Minister Scott Morrison commented on the situation with a tweet:
Mr Djokovic’s visa has been revoked. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strict border policies have been essential for Australia to have one of the lowest COVID mortality rates in the world, and we remain vigilant.
– Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) January 5, 2022
On January 4, Djokovic made headlines when it was announced that the Australian Open had granted him a medical exemption to play in the tournament. This has caused outrage in Australia as the country’s citizens have struggled with severe restrictions since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.
On Wednesday, reports suggested that Djokovic’s arrival in Australia could be delayed. The Australian Border Forces noted errors in his request for a medical exemption upon Djokovic’s entry into the country; Djokovic’s team did not explicitly request to be exempted from vaccination.
According to reports, Djokovic was interrogated at the airport and will not be officially allowed into the country until the matter is resolved. After exploring more, the Border Force asked Djokovic to leave the country. According to The AgeDjokovic’s lawyers plan to appeal.
According to Reuters, Djokovic will remain in a hotel for detained immigrants in Melbourne until Monday, when his full court hearing on an appeal against his visa refusal will take place.
With the rise of the Omicron variant, Australia has strengthened restrictions with very little travel allowed. About 90 percent of the population aged 16 and over are vaccinated, but the country still has the highest COVID rates since the start of the pandemic, the BBC said.
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Happy New Year! I wish you all health, love and joy at all times and may you feel love and respect for all beings on this beautiful planet.
I spent a fantastic time with loved ones over the break and today I am heading down with an exception. We’re going to 2022! pic.twitter.com/e688iSO2d4
– Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 4, 2022
Djokovic’s apparent exception to the Australian vaccination angered them.
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Novak Djokovic is on his way to Melbourne tonight.
The world number one anti-vax was allowed to play at the Australian Open after being granted a medical exemption.
– 9News Melbourne (@ 9NewsMelb) January 5, 2022
“No one is and will not receive special treatment because of who they are or what they have achieved professionally,” Victorian Minister Jaala Pulford said of Novak Djokovic.
False. Athletes, actors and the rich receive special treatment from the first day of the pandemic.
– Karen Sweeney (@karenlsweeney) January 4, 2022
The Australians have been denied two years, but this guy – who has enjoyed extraordinary freedom in the face of the coronavirus – gets an exception. Novak Djokovic is the great of all time, but it is not necessary.
– Andy Maher (@AndyMaherDFA) January 4, 2022
It will be * VERY * interesting to watch people in Melbourne, the city with the longest COVID-19 lock in the world, react to Novak Djokovic playing at the Australian Open.
– Nikolaus Fink (@NikolausFink) January 4, 2022
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Djokovic has not suffered any injuries lately, at least none he reported, leading to speculation as to what his considerations might be for obtaining a medical exemption.
Australian Open participants have been quarantined for about last week. Vaccination is mandatory for players, and if they come into close contact with a positive case, they must undergo a quarantine of at least seven days.
The Australian Open begins on Monday 17 January and lasts until Sunday 30 January.