Novak Djokovic’s entry into Australia has been halted following widespread setbacks over a decision to grant him an exemption from vaccination so he could take part in the Australian Open Grand Slam tournament in mid-January.
World No. 1 landed in Melbourne on Wednesday after saying he had been granted medical exemption to play in the tournament, but he has been held back by a visa error while trying to gain access, Australian media reported.
Aging the newspaper said the Australian federal border force had contacted the Victoria state government and asked if it would support his application after his team applied for the wrong form of visa.
Acting Victoria Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said: “The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia.
“We will not provide Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam. “
The Age reported that Djokovic had landed in the country around noon. 23.30 local time, but more than two hours later he was still being investigated by officials. It was not clear whether the federal government would allow his entry.
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned the 34-year-old Serbian tennis star, who has refused to share his vaccination status and who previously spoke out against vaccines, would not be granted access if he could not show a real reason to be medically exempt.
Sir. Morrison said earlier on Wednesday that there would be “no special rules” for Djokovic, who has won nine titles at Melbourne Park including the last three.
“If this evidence is insufficient, then he will not be treated any differently than anyone else and he will be on the next flight home,” he said at a media conference.
The decision to make Djokovic medically exempt from participating in the Australian Open on January 17 sparked outrage among athletes, doctors and politicians who took to social media to criticize the move.
Stephen Parnis, a former vice-president of the Australian Medical Association, said the decision was “appalling”, while Victorian Liberal leader David Southwick said it was a “disgrace”.
Australia, which has had the longest cumulative lockdown in the world, is currently experiencing a record number of Covid-19s due to the highly transferable Omicron variant.
The country’s federal and state governments have put a lot of pressure on the importance of vaccinations. As a result, 90 percent of people over 16 have been double-dosed, and a booster program is rolling out.