More tennis arrivals under review | Magnet
Border officials are investigating two more Australian Open-related arrivals who may have traveled the country unvaccinated, as world number one Novak Djokovic fights to stay in the country.
Djokovic’s visa was canceled by the government on Thursday after violating entry requirements surrounding his COVID-19 vaccination status.
Now Home Secretary Karen Andrews has said other tournament participants are under investigation for similar circumstances.
“If the Australia Border Force learns that there is a problem, they will continue to investigate and ensure that Australia’s entry conditions are maintained,” she told the Seven Network on Friday. .
“(ABF) will continue with the investigations and once they are finalized I am sure I will be notified.”
Ms Andrews said Djokovic, who is being held pending his threat of deportation, did not provide the correct information to enter Australia.
“This is required of anyone entering the country. If this information cannot be provided, the conditions for entry into Australia have not been met,” she said.
“One of those requirements is that you must have proof that you are vaccinated against COVID.”
The nine-time Australian Open champion, who arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday around midnight, was formally refused entry around nine hours later and is being held at a hotel in north Melbourne as he sues legal action against the deportation order.
His case began Thursday in Federal Court and will return Monday for a final hearing.
The Serbian superstar has claimed he has a vaccination exemption allowing him to travel to Australia.
But it appears he only had an exemption provided by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government to enter the competition.
Djokovic has not publicly disclosed his vaccine status, but it is believed he is not vaccinated and was relying on his previous COVID-19 infection to enter Australia.
Djokovic could be called to testify virtually in court on Monday.
Former deputy secretary of the Immigration Ministry Abul Rizvi told ABC radio that the ABF and government response to Djokovic’s visa issue had been mismanaged.
“Waiting until he gets to the border and then canceling the visa is an extremely bad practice,” he said.
“The process used for Novak Djokovic is simply impractical at any scale.”
But Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the government had always been clear on the rules for people entering the country since the borders reopened in December.
“We made this clear to Tennis Australia – it has been publicly clear for a long time. You need to be doubly vaccinated if you are not an Australian citizen to enter Australia,” he told the Nine Network.
Meanwhile, Djokovic’s family in Serbia rallied behind the champion, accusing the federal government of keeping him captive and comparing him to Jesus.
“They are keeping him in captivity. They are trampling on Novak and therefore trampling on Serbia and the Serbian people,” Djokovic’s father Srdjan told a press conference in Belgrade on Thursday.
“(Australian Prime Minister Scott) Morrison and his ilk dared to attack Novak to bring Serbia to its knees.
“They crucified Jesus and now they are trying to crucify Novak the same way and bring him to his knees.”
Despite the situation, Ms Andrews said the tennis star would not receive any special treatment.
“We have always been clear that Mr Djokovic will be treated the same as everyone else in similar circumstances here in Australia,” she said.
A rally in support of Djokovic will be held outside the Park Hotel in Carlton on Friday, where he is being held alongside around 30 asylum seekers.
The Australian Open starts on January 17th.
Associated Australian Press