Tennis-Djokovic must prove exemption or take home – Australian Prime Minister

SYDNEY, January 5 (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic must prove he has a genuine medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination when he lands in Australia, otherwise he will be “on the next flight home”, said the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday. . World No. 1 announced on Tuesday that he was receiving a waiver to play in the Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne and said he was on his way to Australia. Read more

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 who had not received any special treatment in the anonymous application process.

“We are awaiting his presentation and what evidence he gives us to support it,” Morrison told a news conference after chairing a meeting with state leaders on dealing with record levels of COVID infections in the country. Read more

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“If that evidence is insufficient, then he will not be treated any differently than anyone else and he will be on the next flight home. There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None at all.”

The federal government, which is responsible for international borders and visas, was not part of the exemption process. Morrison said several exceptions had been granted to people who had been able to support their application.

“So the circumstances are not unique, the question is whether he has sufficient evidence to support that he would qualify for this exception,” he said.

The decision to grant Djokovic a waiver for the tournament sparked sharp criticism in Australia, where more than 90% of people over 16 have been given two vaccine doses against COVID-19. Read more .

Melbourne had the world’s longest cumulative lockdown to include COVID, and an outbreak of the Omicron variant has sent case numbers to record levels.

Tennis – Davis Cup Semifinals – Serbia vs. Croatia – La Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – December 3, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory over Croatian Marin Cilic REUTERS / Susana Vera

“I think a lot of people in Victorian society will find this a disappointing result,” Acting Victorian Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said at a news conference earlier Wednesday following the news of Djokovic’s release.

“But the process is the process; no one has received special treatment. The process is incredibly robust.”

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said the two-step application process was confidential and driven by independent experts. All applications were assessed to ensure that any exemptions were met by the conditions laid down by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI).

Tiley said these causes included previous negative response to vaccines, recent major surgery or myocarditis or certified evidence of a COVID infection in the previous six months.

The Serb, who had refused to reveal his vaccination status, said earlier that he was unsure whether he would compete at the tournament 17-30. January in Melbourne due to concerns over Australia’s quarantine rules. “

“We fully understand and empathize with … people are saddened by the fact that Novak has come in because of his statements over the last few years about vaccination,” Tiley told reporters.

“But it is ultimately up to him to discuss his condition with the public if he chooses to do so, and the reasons why he was granted a waiver.”

(This story was re-archived to remove irrelevant words “in” in section 6)

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Reporting by John Mair; Edited by Cynthia Osterman, Michael Perry and Alison Williams

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