© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Davis Cup Semi-Finals – Serbia v Croatia – La Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – December 3, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates profitable his match in opposition to Croatia’s Marin Cilic REUTERS/Susana Vera
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic was left stranded at a Melbourne airport in a single day, caught in a internatonal political maelstrom over whether or not Australia would honour the World No. 1’s medical exemption from vaccine necessities or ship him house resulting from a visa blunder.
Djokovic, who’s looking for a record-breaking twenty first Grand Slam win on the Australian Open, touched down at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport Wednesday about 11:30 p.m. native time after a 14-hour flight from Dubai.
But he was nonetheless awaiting permission early Thursday morning to enter the nation after it emerged that his crew had utilized for a visa that doesn’t enable for medical exemptions.
That prompted the native authorities of Victoria, the state the place the Open is performed, to say it might not assist Djokovic’s utility, placing his destiny in the fingers of the federal authorities and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The extraordinary transfer by the Australian authorities to doubtlessly block Djokovic from getting into the nation due to a mistake on his visa type threatened to trigger a diplomatic incident between Canberra and Belgrade.
“I’ve simply completed my phone dialog with Novak Djokovic,” Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic posted on Instagram. “I advised our Novak that the entire of Serbia is with him and that our our bodies are doing every little thing to see that the harassment of the world’s finest tennis participant is delivered to an finish instantly.
“In line with all norms of worldwide legislation, Serbia will struggle for Novak, fact and justice. Novak is powerful, as everyone knows.”
Vucic had summoned the Australian ambassador in Belgrade and demanded that they instantly launch Djokovic to play, Serbian media reported.
Djokovic’s father Srdjan mentioned that his son was ready alone in a room on the airport underneath armed guard for a ultimate resolution on whether or not he might enter the nation.
“I’ve no clue what is going on on, they’ve saved my son in captivity for 5 hours now,” Srdjan advised the Serbian on-line model of Sputnik. “If they do not let him go in half a hour, we’ll collect in the streets, this can be a battle for everybody.”
“Not essentially the most regular journey from Down Under,” coach Goran Ivanisevic commented beside an Instagram selfie from the airport lounge, accompanied by face-palm and mind-blown emojis.
Morrison has confronted an unlimited backlash over his authorities’s resolution to grant Djokovic a medical exemption from vaccination to play on the Open, resulting in fingerpointing between the Prime Minister’s conservative administration and the left-leaning Victorian authorities led by premier Dan Andrews.
Australia, particularly the state of Victoria, has endured the world’s longest cumulative lockdown and an outbreak of the Omicron variant has despatched case numbers to document ranges.
Following the backlash, Morrison recommended Djokovic’s participation was not a completed deal and he must fulfill the federal authorities, which has accountability for worldwide borders and visas and was not a part of the exemption course of.
Morrison mentioned shortly earlier than Djokovic’s arrival that there can be “no particular guidelines” for him on his exemption.
“If that proof is inadequate, then he will not be handled any completely different to anybody else and he’ll be on the following aircraft house,” Morrison advised a media convention earlier.
Djokovic got here in on an Emirates flight however when border officers contacted the Victorian authorities to ask if the state would formally assist the world primary’s visa, it mentioned it might not.
“The Federal Government has requested if we’ll assist Novak Djokovic’s visa utility to enter Australia,” Victoria’s appearing Sports Minister Jaala Pulford mentioned.
“We is not going to be offering Novak Djokovic with particular person visa utility assist to take part in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.
“We’ve at all times been clear on two factors: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for medical doctors.”
It was not clear whether or not the federal authorities would enable his entry. The Border Force didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Tennis Australia and authorities officers moved rapidly to emphasize that Djokovic had acquired no preferential remedy.
The Serbian, who has beforehand declined to disclose his vaccination standing, has gained 9 titles at Melbourne Park together with the final three. He confirmed on Tuesday that had acquired a vaccination exemption to permit him to play on the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 17.
Australian tennis nice Rod Laver, after whom the principle showcourt at Melbourne Park in the state of Victoria is known as, warned that Djokovic would possibly face hostility from the native crowd.
“I feel it would get ugly,” Laver advised News Corp (NASDAQ:). “I’d assume the Victorian individuals can be considering ‘Yes I’d like to see him play and compete, however on the identical time there is a proper manner and a unsuitable manner.’
“Yes, you are a terrific participant and you have carried out and gained so many tournaments, so it may’t be bodily. So what’s the downside?”
Melbourne native Christine Wharton mentioned it was a “shame”.
“We’ve all completed the proper factor, we have all gone out and obtained our jabs and our boosters, and we have now somebody that is come from abroad and unexpectedly he is been exempt and might play, and I feel it is an absolute shame and I will not be watching it.”