With million lives lost due to COVID and overwhelmed health workers, how fair is world’s leading unvaccinated athlete’s medical exemption?
- Australia cancels the visa of world’s number one tennis player Novak Djokovic for being unvaccinated.
- The medical exemption granted by Tennis Australia questioned in the wake of blistering rise in COVID cases in the country.
- Former vice president of Australia calls Djokovic’s anti-vax act “appalling”.
- Final verdict on whether the athlete will be allowed at 21st Grand Slam title at Melbourne to be announced on Monday.
World’s number one tennis player Novak Djokovic was denied entry to Melbourne for Australian Open tennis tournament for being unvaccinated. The Australian administration canceled his visa after holding Djokovic at the airport for hours. The athlete was later sent to the government detention hotel by the border officials.
The court will give its final verdict on deportation on Monday. In 2021, the Serbian player Novak Djokovic publicly expressed his opposition to vaccination, following which, he never took a single jab.
Amid the legal troubles following the cancellation of Djokovic’s Australian visa, athlete’s lawyers succeeded in postponing his deportation on Thursday itself, however, the final verdict will come on Monday.
The organizers of the tournament have requested the court to lay out the final decision whether Djokovic will be playing or not, by Tuesday. 11 days ahead of the 21st grand slam title at Melbourne Park, world’s leading tennis player not only failed to meet the vaccine mandate, but also conveys the last message that fans and public need amid virus wave.
According to Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison —
I am advised that such an exemption was not in place and as a result he [Djokovic] is subject to the same rule as anyone else. This is nothing about any one individual, it is simply a matter of following the rules, and so those processes will take their course over the next few hours and that event will play out as it should.
Novak Djokovic conveying message that the world doesn’t need
While anti-vaccine supporters around the world are posing a huge problem for authorities, the problem becomes even more severe when world’s number one athlete is among them.
Tournament authorities clearly rolled out the guidelines that the participants must either be vaccinated or should have a valid medical exemption. Djokovic somehow managed to get a medical exemption for himself which is now under question once again amid meteoric rise in cases in Australia.
I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022Djokovic wrote on Instagram
The former vice-president of the country posted a blunt message for the tennis player on his Twitter handle, calling the move and its message “appaling”.
The independent panel of experts deciding on the medical exemption of players consists a team of immunologists, and general practioners. According to the Tennis Australia (TA), Djokovic was granted medical exemption after a “rigorous review process” in association with the Victoria Department of Health.
“One of those was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health,” TA said in a statement.
They assessed all applications to see if they met the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines.
The association also added that participants have the right to not reveal their exemption and personal details publicly to maintain secrecy of medical conditions.
Without the medical exemption, the athletes are required to spend two weeks in quarantine before entering the country. However, with the medical exemption, the grounds for which have still not been revealed by the authorities, Novak Djokovic was allowed to skip the quarantine period before his visa was cancelled.
According to the spokesperson for the Victorian Government —
Generally we ask that Victorians spend two weeks every January hoping that Novak Djokovic will be knocked out in the early rounds, only to watch him go on and win. It’s exasperating, it’s quite traumatic and after ten years, it’s time to try something different. Victorians have suffered enough.