Novak Djokovic’s impending arrival to Australia has taken another turn, with Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews suggesting border authorities could yet step in, reports 7news.com.
The Serbian World No.1 is on his way to Melbourne after two separate independent panels of medical experts granted his application for an exemption from the Australian Open’s vaccine mandate.
Djokovic’s claim was assessed by Tennis Australia and Victorian government medical panels, which followed guidelines set by the federal government advisory group ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation).
Minister Andrews’ stinging statement however raises questions about the timeline of the application process and what information was passed on to the federal government.
Victoria’s acting Premier Jacinta Allan suggested on Wednesday the federal government had granted Djokovic’s entry to Australia as a vaccine-exempt individual.
But Ms Andrews later hinted Djokovic has yet to secure a visa.
Unvaccinated people without a legitimate exemption face being turned back at the airport or sent into 14 days’ mandatory quarantine.
“Any individual seeking to enter Australia must comply with our strict border requirements,” Ms Andrews said in a statement that did not name Djokovic.
“While the Victorian government and Tennis Australia may permit a non-vaccinated player to compete in the Australian Open, it is the Commonwealth government that will enforce our requirements at the Australian border.
“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.
“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,” the statement read.
The Australian Open begins on January 17, with unvaccinated players who do not have a Tennis Australia and Victorian government-approved exemption banned from entering Melbourne Park.
The grounds for Djokovic’s exemption under the ATAGI guidelines have remained private.