Victorian government rejects Novak Djokovic visa application in Australian Open bombshell

'No special rules for Novak Djokovic', says Australian Prime Minister

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The Victorian government has confirmed it will not be supporting Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia. The world No 1 is believed to have landed in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, after receiving a medical exemption to compete in the first Major of the year.

Djokovic has sparked outrage among Australians in the last 24 hours, after announcing he had received “an exemption permission” encouraging him to fly to Melbourne for the upcoming Australian Open.

The nine-time Aussie Open champion had been in doubt for several months after tournament organisers announced all players and personnel needed to be fully vaccinated to enter the country and the tournament grounds.

But after Djokovic failed to make it to Australia in time for the ATP Cup, he announced on Tuesday that he was flying to Melbourne after being given an exemption for the season-opening Grand Slam.

Tennis Australia later confirmed that Djokovic “applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.”

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While the reason for the 34-year-old’s exemption has not been given, Tennis Australia said applications were made and granted in line with the national guidelines set by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

Australians have shared their frustrations at the decision with no explanation given, with some going as far as to say they will boycott the Australian Open when it begins on January 17.

Politicians have also spoken out against the decision to grant Djokovic an exemption, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison himself threatening to send the 20-time Grand Slam champion back home on Wednesday.

“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,” the Australian PM told reporters.

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“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 and he’ll be on the next plane home.”

Now, Djokovic’s chances of entering Australia have once again been thrown into doubt after Australian newspaper The Age confirmed that his team had submitted the wrong type of visa.

Earlier on Wednesday, Australia’s ABC News said that the Acting Australian Border Force Commissioner was examining an “issue” that had arisen with the Serb’s Australian Travel Declaration for the Australian Open, now believed to be an incorrect visa application.

The world No 1 is said to hold a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated, and is thought to have already landed in Melbourne.

Border Force then asked the Victorian government to formally back Djokovic’s visa application.

But state officials rejected the request to sponsor Djokovic’s visa, as a Victorian MP confirmed that the state government will not be supporting Djokovic’s application for a visa to enter Australia.

Taking to Twitter, Labour MP for Western Victoria and acting Victorian sports minister Jaala Pulford wrote on Wednesday: “The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia.

“We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.

“We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors.”

Border Force has the discretion to allow Djokovic into the country in spite of the local government’s stance, and it is reported that he is still likely to gain entry into Melbourne.

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