Novak Djokovic’s 2022 Australian Open debacle: What’s happened so far? | Tennis News | #socialmedia


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Novak Djokovic’s defence of his Australian Open title is in doubt – we explain the current situation and how it affects the world’s best tennis player

Novak Djokovic’s defence of his Australian Open title is in doubt – we explain the current situation and how it affects the world’s best tennis player

We answer the key questions and provide the latest updates emerging from Novak Djokovic’s chaotic and controversial journey to Australia on an initial ‘vaccine exemption’…

In a nutshell, what’s happened?

World No 1 Djokovic flew to Australia with a ‘vaccine exemption’ and arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday, but was ultimately denied entry into the country after nine hours at the airport. The Serb’s visa was one which did not allow for medical exemptions and was cancelled, after which he was moved to hotel quarantine as his team launched an appeal – which has now been adjourned until Monday.

Novak Djokovic – Sequence of events

Djokovic announces he will be travelling to Australia with an ‘exemption permission’ on Tuesday, January 4.
While Djokovic is airborne, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the athlete will be on the “next plane home” if he cannot provide “acceptable proof” that his exemption is legitimate.
Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford highlights that the local government of Victoria, where the Australian Open is held, will not support Djokovic’s visa application.
The world No 1 arrives at Melbourne Airport around 11.30pm on Wednesday, January 5.
Around 3.15am local time in Australia, Djokovic’s father reports that his son is being held in isolation in Melbourne Airport.
At 5am local time, Goran Ivanisevic releases an image on social media of himself and Djokovic’s physiotherapist seemingly waiting for the world No 1. The post is captioned, ‘Not the most usual trip Down Under’.
Around 8.15am local time, Djokovic’s visa confirmed to have been denied.
Djokovic moved to quarantine hotel while team appeal visa cancellation.
Appeal against visa cancellation adjourned until Monday 10am Australia time.

What are Australia’s current rules of entry?

Australia currently requires all foreign visitors entering the country to be double vaccinated, and to hold a valid and appropriate visa.

There are medical exemptions whereby some travellers may enter the country unvaccinated, but all of these are viewed and assessed alongside visas by Australia Border Force upon the traveller’s arrival to immigration.

  • The 2022 tournament due to start on Monday, January 17.
  • The singles draw will be conducted at Margaret Court Arena on Thursday, January 10.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison also confirmed that Australia Border Force outlined expectations of the federal government to Tennis Australia in letters sent in November regarding vaccinated and unvaccinated entry, and that a recent Covid infection was not a valid reason.

Djokovic was ultimately denied entry into Australia in the early hours of Thursday morning local time

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Djokovic was ultimately denied entry into Australia in the early hours of Thursday morning local time

Djokovic was ultimately denied entry into Australia in the early hours of Thursday morning local time

Criteria listed by the Australian Technical Advisory Group as permissible reasons for a medical exemption range from acute major medical conditions to any serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Who granted Djokovic a vaccine exemption?

Having been originally named in Serbia’s team for the ATP Cup in Sydney, Djokovic then withdrew, leading to mystery surrounding his participation in the 2022 Australian Open.

On Tuesday, Djokovic then revealed on his social media channels that he had been given an “exemption permission” to travel and play at the Australian Open without a Covid-19 vaccination. The response in Australia and around the world was hugely negative.

The Australian Open released a statement saying his medical exemption had passed a ‘rigorous, multi-step’ review, which involved two separate independent panels of medical experts.

These were an expert panel made up of doctors from the fields of immunology, infectious disease and general practice, and the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health.

Tennis Australia – the sporting body which runs Australia’s Grand Slam – and the Victorian Department of Health had drawn up and finalised plans for Covid-19 vaccination protocols for the Australian Open, and were the ones who granted Djokovic his initial medical exemption.

Rafael Nadal says Djokovic could have made it easier for himself by following the rules

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Rafael Nadal says Djokovic could have made it easier for himself by following the rules

Rafael Nadal says Djokovic could have made it easier for himself by following the rules

Is Novak Djokovic vaccinated?

Djokovic has never publicly revealed whether he is vaccinated against Covid-19, but has repeatedly criticised mandates ruling that players must be double-jabbed.

The latest events with Australia Border Force seem to provide the clearest indication yet that Djokovic is unvaccinated.

In April 2020, Djokovic said on a Facebook Live chat he was “personally opposed to vaccinations,” while his wife, Jelena, has promoted discredited social media messages linking Covid-19 to 5G technology.

Djokovic has never revealed if he is vaccinated or not, but has criticised the process repeatedly

Djokovic has never revealed if he is vaccinated or not, but has criticised the process repeatedly

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley had said it would be “helpful” for Djokovic to clarify his situation on what exempts him from vaccination.

“We completely understand and empathise that some would have been upset by the fact that Novak Djokovic has come in because of his statements around vaccination in the past couple of years,” Tiley told reporters.

“We would love Novak to talk about it and help us with it, but ultimately it’s going to be up to him.

“We aren’t in a position, even legally, to disclose other people’s medical information.”

Novak Djokovic's mother Dijana says her son is being treated like a 'prisoner' in poor conditions in his quarantine hotel.

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Novak Djokovic’s mother Dijana says her son is being treated like a ‘prisoner’ in poor conditions in his quarantine hotel.

Novak Djokovic’s mother Dijana says her son is being treated like a ‘prisoner’ in poor conditions in his quarantine hotel.

What were the issues with Djokovic’s visa?

Having landed in Melbourne at around 11.30pm local time on Wednesday evening on a flight from Dubai, the 20-time grand slam winner reportedly attempted to enter the country on a visa that did not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated.

According to reports, Djokovic and his team submitted the wrong type of visa, which caused heavy delays at the airport.

When Border Force contacted government officials in Victoria to sponsor the visa, they refused to do so.

Indeed, the local government of Victoria, the state where the Australian Open is played, said it would not support Djokovic’s application, with Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford confirming as much in a statement on social media.

Why did Australia Border Force deny him entry?

Upon landing in Melbourne, in addition to the visa error, Djokovic’s ‘vaccine exemption’ was deemed not sufficient for border officials with regard to entry into a country that has strict requirements.

The Serb was held for more than nine hours at the airport before ultimately being denied entry, as the federal government has a higher authority than previous decisions and statements made by Tennis Australia, which had been endorsed by the state government.

An Australian Border Force (ABF) statement read: “Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Djokovic's exemption 'did not pass the standards of proof that were required by the Australian Border Force'

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Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Djokovic’s exemption ‘did not pass the standards of proof that were required by the Australian Border Force’

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Djokovic’s exemption ‘did not pass the standards of proof that were required by the Australian Border Force’

“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.

“The ABF can confirm Mr Djokovic had access to his phone.”

Where is Djokovic now and can he train?

After he was denied entry into the country, Djokovic was transported from the airport to the Park Hotel in Carlton, Melbourne, where he has been placed in quarantine isolation.

The hotel is currently being used as an immigration detention centre, houses asylum seekers, and for more than a year has held detainees returned to Australia for urgent medical attention from offshore immigration holding centres on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

A growing Serbian presence has gathered outside the Melbourne quarantine hotel where Djokovic is staying

A growing Serbian presence has gathered outside the Melbourne quarantine hotel where Djokovic is staying

The hotel is described as a “luxurious 4.5-star hotel set in a prime location” on their website, with 107 rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and spa/wellness facilities, but no mention of tennis courts.

Based on previous accounts of quarantine in Australia from the likes of rugby league’s Luke Thompson, the Argentina rugby union squad, and several tennis players, it would seem highly unlikely Djokovic will be able to train during this period.

What stage is Djokovic’s appeal at?

Having been transported from Melbourne airport to his quarantine hotel, court documents showed Djokovic’s team applied for an injunction against the visa cancellation.

After Australia’s Border Force confirmed Djokovic’s visa had been revoked, the 34-year-old’s injunction request was initially listed for hearing at 4pm on Thursday (0500 GMT) in the Federal Circuit and Family Court.

The hearing was later adjourned until 6pm (0700 GMT), and then again most-recently until 10am on Monday, January 10 (2300 Sunday GMT), with Djokovic told by the Federal Court of Australia that he can remain in Melbourne until his appeal resumes.

Djokovic's appeal against his visa cancellation has been adjourned until Monday in Melbourne

Djokovic’s appeal against his visa cancellation has been adjourned until Monday in Melbourne

On Thursday, Judge Anthony Kelly confirmed that if Djokovic was shown to have failed to meet the visa entry requirements, then immigration minister Alek Hawke would be unable to grant the tennis player an exemption.

“If they’re not met, the minister has no discretion,” Justice Kelly said.

What have the Australian Government said?

“There are no special cases, rules are rules,” PM Morrison has said.

“We will continue to make the right decisions when it comes to securing Australian borders in relation to this pandemic.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that 'rules are rules' after Djokovic was denied entry into the country

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that ‘rules are rules’ after Djokovic was denied entry into the country

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that ‘rules are rules’ after Djokovic was denied entry into the country

Australia Health Minister Greg Hunt: “The Prime Minister has been clear that Australians have had to do it tough…and it’s not unreasonable to have exactly the same requirements of all who enter this country. So fair and equitable for all, and the requirements were not able to be met.

“There was an exemption that had been provided through the Victorian Government process. Clearly, that did not pass the standards of proof that were required by the Australian Border Force. Yes, it’s tough but it is fair and equitable and it’s one rule for all under this Australian Government.”

What has the reaction been in Serbia?

Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic has made his stance clear, labelling Djokovic’s treatment as ‘political persecution’.

“What can we do? I spoke to Novak Djokovic for the first time last night, then the second time this morning. Nikola Selakovic, the foreign minister, is in the US, so Vlada Maric called the Australian Ambassador last night and then this morning again.

“We are all asking just one thing: to let Novak Djokovic move out from this horrific hotel into a rented home where he can prepare for the tournament, while he is awaiting a court decision on Monday. In this house, he can be under surveillance 24 hours.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has labelled Djokovic's treatment 'political persecution'

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has labelled Djokovic’s treatment ‘political persecution’

Serbian President Aleksanda Vulvic has offered his support to Novak Djokovic and labelled Australia’s handling of the situation as 'political persecution'

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Serbian President Aleksanda Vulvic has offered his support to Novak Djokovic and labelled Australia’s handling of the situation as ‘political persecution’

Serbian President Aleksanda Vulvic has offered his support to Novak Djokovic and labelled Australia’s handling of the situation as ‘political persecution’

“Whatever Novak has asked his country to do we did, we wanted to do it and it’s our obligation to do it. It is our obligation, as a state, to protect the interests of our citizens. We are dedicated to that. What’s not fair is this political persecution, that everyone is taking part in, even the Australian Prime Minister.

“I’m afraid this kind of political ranting against Novak Djokovic will continue. They want to prove something else. When you can’t beat someone then you do these kind of things.”





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