Everything You Need to Know About the Djokovic Issue
After months of back and forth, defending champion Novak Djokovic was expected to play in the Australian Open, after being granted a medical exemption for declining to receive his Covid-19 jabs.
The tournament had made Covid-19 jabs mandatory to compete. However, after a twist in events, the World No. 1 tennis player is now being held in a quarantined hotel, under police guard, due to alleged issues with his visa.
So, how did he get from flying in to defend his Australian Open Title on Wednesday night to controversy and armed guard?
On November 20th last year, the Australian Open tournament was confirmed by director Craig Tiley as needing vaccinations from all players to participate in the tournament. With Djokovic having won nine Australian Open titles, and the last three being in a row, attention turned to the World No.1 who had been very publicly opposed to mandatory vaccines for tour events.
Djokovic maintained that his vaccination status would remain private – which fuelled wildfire rumours that the tennis player had not complied with requests, and six weeks later Djokovic’s participation remained unconfirmed.
After he withdrew from the ATP Cup, hosted in Sydney, many believed he wouldn’t be flying over for the Australian Open Tournament.
However, director Tiley went on to confirm that unvaccinated players could actually play if they could provide evidence of their medical exemption. This Tuesday, Djokovic announced that he had, in fact, been granted one, which many questioned was due to his famous tennis status, as American player Tennys Sandgren confirmed he wasn’t eligible for an exemption, and the exemption happened very fast.
Tennis Australia and the Victorian government, however, confirmed that the exemption had been issued under the standard two-step process, which was set to clear him for the tournament starting 17th January, although the reason for his exemption is still unclear.
Now a different issue has arisen, as Djokovic is in disagreement with Border Force, who is unsure whether he should be allowed to enter the country. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said that until the tennis player can confirm that he cannot be vaccinated for legitimate reasons, his medical exemption will mean nothing.
Reports suggest that an issue with Djokovic’s Australian Travel Declaration is the reason behind the hold-up whilst Djokovic’s father claims that he is being held captive by border control.
Mr Morrison went on to say:
“We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that. If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else, and he’ll be on the next plane home.”
The situation has even escalated so far that the Serbian president has commented, stating:
“The whole of Serbia is with him and our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end immediately.”