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Vaccination, visa issue or Australian outrage? Djokovic to be deported

How did the champion Novak Djokovic get a medical exemption to travel to the Australian Open, and why is he about to get deported? Who has gotten exempted?

How did the champion Novak Djokovic get a medical exemption to travel to the Australian Open, and why was he denied entry to Australia? Who gets exempted?

Granting the world’s no 1 tennis player exemption to compete in Australia without being vaccinated against covid-19 has caused worldwide outrage. Nevertheless, Novak Djokovic was given medical exemption and was allowed to fly to Australia.

Ironically, he is now stuck at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne, after the Victorian government rejected an application from Border Force regarding his visa. And while it seems that a member of his support team made the error of requesting a sub-class of visa, Jaala Pulford, the acting sports minister of the state of Victoria, made it clear that Djokovic's application will not be supported

According to the  Australian media report, the tennis star has been told he will be deported, but his lawyers have been trying to challenge the decision. Djokovic had been quizzed in a room at Melbourne's airport for hours while his visa and exemption status was being investigated.

So how did Djokovic get the medical exemption in the first place to compete at Australian Open?

According to Australian Open boss Craig Tiley, Djokovic is among the 26 players and support staff who have been granted a vaccine exemption that allows them to enter Australia and participate in the year's first Grand Slam.

However, the medical reason behind why the Serb has obtained the exemption has not yet been revealed. Rather, Tiley told to the media on Wednesday that the "exemption is granted on grounds which are personal medical information that they do not receive."

He also added that, "it is up to that applicant to disclose what those grounds were."

In a system set up in agreement with the Victorian state government, all cases were examined by two medical panels, without revealing the players’ identities; the first panel of doctors decided if the applications abided by the exemption guidance of the government's ‘Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’ (ATAGI), while the second then further examined the cases.

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For months, the Victorian state government officials have been quite adamant that only vaccinated players would be able to participate at the tournament.

So what are the reasons why ATAGI allowed temporary exemptions from Australia’s covid vaccine?

Reasons medical exemptions were allowed for Australian Open players

  • A “covid-19 infection” Proven by a PCR test which defers vaccination for six months after the infection.
  • A "major medical condition" such as major surgery or hospitalisation for a serious illness.
  • A "serious adverse event" to a previous covid-19 vaccination, like a life-threatening reaction or one that requires hospitalisation - if there is no acceptable alternative vaccine available.
  • People who are a risk to themselves or others during the vaccination process,like those with a severe mental health disorder.
  • For vaccines such as Pfizer or Moderna, proof of an inflammatory cardiac illness within the past three months.

With Djokovic steadfastly refusing to disclose whether he has been vaccinated and being given an exemption, the public reaction has been overwhelmingly hostile.

Tiley shared that he understands people being "completely upset" at the news of the star’s exemption, but he also insisted Djokovic had not been given special treatment.

He asserted that anyone who met the guidelines, including through proof of a recent covid infection, was allowed to enter Australia. "There has been no special favour, there has been no special opportunity granted to Novak.”


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