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Home Affairs Minister issues warning to unvaccinated tennis stars amid Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open approval


Novak Djokovic’s entry in the Australian Open has been thrown into turmoil after the Home Affairs Minister issued a warning about unvaccinated international arrivals.

Novak Djokovic could struggle to enter Australia despite his Australian Open vaccine exemption as the federal government declares it has the power to block entry for unvaccinated international arrivals.

Djokovic’s exemption to play in the Australian Open despite his vaccination status has drawn widespread criticism, but Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has said his entry into the country rests with the federal government.

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Ms Andrews said the Commonwealth would “enforce our requirements” at the border despite the approval given to Djokovic by the Victorian Government and Tennis Australia.

“Since 15 December 2021 fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption, and enter eligible states and territories quarantine free,” the minister said in a statement.

“If an arriving individual is not vaccinated, they must provide acceptable proof that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons to be able to access the same travel arrangement as fully vaccinated travellers.

“Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our strict border requirements.”

The nine-time Australian Open champion was granted permission by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to enter Australia after which an independent medical panel established by Tennis Australia gave Djokovic the green light to play in the tournament.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley has defended the integrity of the process, revealing Djokovic was one of 26 “blind applicants” to be assessed by the panel before moving on to a second panel set up by the government.

“No one knew who the applicant was,” he said.

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However, Ms Andrews said there would not be “any special treatment” for the tennis star.

“No individual competing at the Australian Open will be afforded any special treatment,” she said.

“Quarantine requirements for international arrivals in Victoria, including for non-vaccinated individuals, are a matter for the Victorian Government.”

The Victorian Government has called on the tennis champion to explain his exemption which can be provided on a limited number of grounds including recent COVID infection, an acute major medical condition and serious adverse reactions to a previous vaccine.

“It’s the government’s expectation that when he does arrive, he explains to the Victorian community what are the circumstances and can then explain some of the motives behind his actions and his intentions in playing here in Australia,” acting Premier Jacinta Allan said on Wednesday.



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