Australian Open? Australia Closed?

In the rules that were put out to Novak Djokovic and more recently Renata Voracova they have done nothing wrong. Both players were awarded a medical exemption by independent medical panels in Australia to come into play at the Australian Open and lead-up events.

This is monumental fiasco fuelled by politics and brings a lot of shame onto the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Tennis Australia.

Novak Djokovic and Renata Voracova are now in a detention hotel in Melbourne, a third person is expected to join them. Novak Djokovic will go before a court on Monday to argue his case, Renata Voracova will leave the country.

Remember, Renata Voracova has been in Melbourne for a couple of weeks having been given an medical exemption and has been on site at Melbourne Park and playing in the doubles of a lead-up event, she is now being deported. Shame on Australia.

This isn’t about who you support, I really like Djokovic, this is about doing the right thing. This is about the sacrifice by people just not in Melbourne or wider Australia but the world. People who couldn’t see their families or loved ones, people couldn’t even go about their day around their neighboured, without this Djokovic wouldn’t be here.

I do think Djokovic and the Australian Government have a lot to answer. The Melbourne Premier have always stated that without a vaccine you don’t get in until a couple of weeks ago when the words ‘medical exemption’ begin to surface which naturally led to rumours. Why have they now acted late and retrospectively? Are the politicians reacting to the noise to cover their own failings?

I understand privacy of someone’s own medical condition and personal life but this stinks. Full disclosure is the only way people can trust Djokovic and the Australian Government.

Questions have rightfully been asked to say, has he been awarded it because of who he is? Why has it all taken soo long? We’ve known for months on end that you need to be vaccinated so what happened, what goes on during these medical panels?

We all know people who have made sacrifices and many not by choice over the last couple of years but because they have been told so, this is a kick in the teeth for them, for us.

It’s a valid question that surfaced last year at Indian Wells and other events, how can you insist on fans to be vaccinated but not players? They bring revenue with their profiled status but the fans make sport what it is, without them it doesn’t happens.

This doesn’t lie directly with Djokovic or tennis but with those who make the rules, it has to be a rule, not a rule with flexibility or it isn’t a rule.

Timeline of Events…

21st of December

Craig Tiley, the CEO of the Australian Open said…

“The great thing is that everyone [coming to Australia] is vaccinated,”

“Everyone who is coming in is vaccinated and there will be a small percentage – a very small percentage – that will have a medical exemption.

“So if any player, fan, workforce is on site here – you’re either vaccinated or you have a medical exemption that’s approved and you’re on the Australian Immunisation Register.

Pre-New Year

Days before the New Year Novak Djokovic announced his withdrawal from the ATP Cup with rumours circulating about his vaccine status.

3rd of January

Craig Tiley said on the Today programme:

“Every athlete coming into Australia has to be vaccinated and show proof of that, or has to have made application from a medical exemption, “In the case of tennis players, that’s far more rigorous than anyone coming into Australia applying for a medical exemption,”

“There are two medical panels that assess any application, and they assess it in a blind way. They don’t know who the applicant is.

“Against the guidelines, an exemption gets granted or not. The reason for granting the exemption remains private, between the panel and the applicant.

“We know of athletes that have applied for an exemption and in cases, it’s been granted.

“Some of those (players) have indicated that they’re here, but that’s up to the athlete, to disclose and (decide) whether they want to share that information.”

Craig was also asked about Djokovic…

“As far as the status relates to Novak, we will have a much clearer picture in the coming days,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s getting pretty late for him to show up and play in the Australian Open.”

“What I am aware of is the same as everyone else. Novak’s made it clear that he wouldn’t disclose his medical conditions, or whether or not he’s vaccinated. It’s his choice to do that. There’s quite a bit to play out, and it will play out in the coming days.”

(where was Prime Minister Scott Morrison in all of this up to this point?)

4th of January

Novak Djokovic announced via Instagram he has been awarded a medical exemption.

Fellow players have been and will continue to be asked about it, Jamie Murray and Alex de Minaur have said;

Alex de Minaur “it’s very interesting, that’s all I’m going to say, it is what it is”

Jamie Murray “I don’t know what to say about that really, I think if it was me that wasn’t vaccinated I wouldn’t be getting an exemption. Well done to him for getting here to Australia to compete.”

To add to this one, Nata Vikhlyantseva is vaccinated against Covid-19 but has had Sputnik, which is not recognised and cannot play in Australia. That’s not fair…

Tennis Australia and the Australian Government will have to ride a wave of backlash and have released a statement about this.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrew’s has suggested that Djokovic could be turned away at the Australian border by the Commonwealth Government.

5th of January

Whilst Novak Djokovic is on his way to Melbourne the Prime Minister Scott Morrison chimes in, it took him long enough.

“Any individual seeking to enter Australia must comply with our border requirements,”

“He has to because if he’s not vaccinated, he must provide acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and to be able to access the same travel arrangements, as fully vaccinated travellers.”

“So we await his presentation and what evidence he provides to support that. If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home.”

“There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all, none whatsoever.”

Hours later…

Novak Djokovic was detained at Melbourne Airport, the ABF (Australian Border Force) released this statement.

“The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements,”

“The ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled.”

“Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia.”

Since Then…

This has sparked outrage throughout the world and raised questions over the motives of the Australian Prime Minister and the ‘rules’ that were put out to players.

Novak Djokovic’ mum, dad and the Prime Minister of Serbia have spoken out whilst protests have been continuous outside the detention hotel in Melbourne.

7th of January

It was announced that doubles player Renata Voracova who was also given a medical exemption and has been in Melbourne for a few weeks and has played tennis matches has now been detained and will be deported.

Monday 10th of January…

Novak Djokovic will be in Victorian Court, 7 days before he was due to begin his Australian Open title defence to deter whether he can play or not.

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