Novak Djokovic will ‘be on the next plane home if he can’t explain his ‘medical exemption’ from being vaccinated – Australia’s PM.. Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has said tennis World No1 Novak Djokovic will ‘be on the next plane home’ if he cannot state the reason behind his ‘medical exemption’ from being vaccinated to play in the Australian Open.
The Serbian tennis star is due to arrive in Melbourne tonight to defend his Grand Slam title, 24 hours after he announced on social media he had received an exemption to play in the tournament and was heading to Australia.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned Djokovic ‘won’t be treated any different to anyone else’ and will be banned from entering the country if evidence of his medical exemption from the Covid-19 vaccine is deemed ‘insufficient’.
‘There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever… We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that,’ Morrison told a media conference on Wednesday.
Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government said Djokovic was one of a ‘handful’ of successful applicants among 26 people who sought exemptions from being vaccinated, but had not received any special treatment in the application process.
The decision has sparked sharp criticism in Australia, where more than 90 percent of tennis stars are doubled jabbed, with fans threatening to boycott the annual tournament over the alleged special treatment of the nine-times champion.
‘My view is that any individual seeking to enter Australia must comply with our border requirements,’ Mr Morrison told reporters at a press conference today.
‘Now Novak Djokovic, when he arrives in Australia, he has to if he’s not vaccinated, must provide acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons to be able to access the same travel arrangements as fully vaccinated travellers.
‘So we await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that. If that evidence is insufficient, then he will be treated no different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home.’
He added that any exemption given to Djokovic will still have to stack up upon arrival in Australia.
‘There are other cases – there are quite a number over the last couple of years – where people have had these exemptions and have the suitable proof to support their claim in those circumstances,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘So the circumstance is not unique. The issue is whether he has sufficient evidence to support that he would qualify for the exemption.’
The reason for Djokovic’s exemption under the ATAGI guidelines have remained private but the tennis star faces calls to personally explain how he got approval to enter Australia to contest the tournament without showing his vaccination status.
In a tweet, Djokovic wrote: ‘Happy New Year! Wishing you all health, love & joy in every moment & may you feel love & respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.
‘I’ve spent fantastic quality time with loved ones over break & today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022.’
Since he has been granted an exemption, he will not have to enter two weeks of hotel quarantine – like un-vaccinated arrivals must. Instead, Djokovic will have to follow the same rules as fully-vaccinated travellers – taking a PCR test on arrival and isolating until the result comes through.
Furious fans have taken to social media to voice their anger over the decision, with many threatening to boycott the tournament next month in response.
One user wrote: ‘For the first time in decades I will not be watching the tennis. Novak Djokovic should not be given an exemption.
‘I hate the one rule for the rest of us, and another rule for the favoured few.’
While another commented: ‘So vaccinated Australians weren’t allowed to cross state borders to see their dying loved ones but Novak Djokovic is allowed to come here (possibly unvaccinated) from overseas to hit a tennis ball. Unbelievable.’
Another person added: ‘After everything that Victorians have been through, Novak Djokovic getting a vaccine exemption is nothing short of a kick in the guts. All those lockdowns, all that suffering. Seriously?’