Connect with us

Sports

‘Rules are rules’: Australia denies entry to Novak Djokovic – Al Jazeera English

Published

 on


Australia has cancelled Novak Djokovic‘s visa and denied entry to the men’s number one tennis player, the country’s border agency announced on Thursday, saying the sportsman “failed to provide appropriate evidence” to meet entry requirements.

Djokovic, who is from Serbia, earlier said he had obtained a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination in order to play in the Australian Open, which starts in less than two weeks time.

But in a statement on Thursday, the Australian Border Force (ABF) said “Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled”.

Djokovic was taken from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport to the Park Hotel, a government detention hotel notorious for a number of coronavirus outbreaks, pending his removal. He is expected to be flown out later on Thursday, although there were reports that Djokovic’s lawyers would file an appeal against the decision.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Djokovic’s visa had been cancelled on social media.

“Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant,” he said on Twitter.

Later, at a media conference in Canberra, Morrison told reporters that Djokovic had failed to provide sufficient proof for why he should have a medical exemption from vaccination and denied the player had been “singled out”.

A lone Serbian fan awaits the arrival of Novak Djokovic at Melbourne airport. The nine-time Australian Open winner was denied entry to Australia and is expected to be deported on Thursday [Loren Elliott/Reuters]

Australia has imposed strict measures to combat COVID-19, including requiring full vaccination, with exemptions for medical reasons, for people entering the country from overseas.

The Australian task force that sets the exemption lists the risk of serious cardiac illness from inoculation and a COVID-19 infection within the past six months as qualifiers. However, Morrison said on Thursday that Tennis Australia had been advised several months ago that a recent infection did not meet the criteria for exemption.

Tennis Australia and government officials said Djokovic received no preferential treatment, adding he was among “a handful” of the 26 people who applied who were approved in an anonymous and independent process.

Any legal challenge to the decision could go all the way to the High Court.

Public outcry

People in Melbourne endured a long and strict lockdown to bring cases under control in 2020, and are now worried about a surge in cases fuelled by the more transmissible Omicron variant.

Many were furious that the unvaccinated player had been granted a visa to play in the Grand Slam tournament, which he has won nine times, and the outcry prompted Morrison to promise to deport Djokovic if he did not provide sufficient evidence to support the exemption.

“There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever,” the prime minister said during a news conference on Wednesday.

In a dramatic series of events through the Melbourne night, Djokovic touched down at Tullamarine Airport at approximately 11:30pm local time (12:30 GMT) on Wednesday after a 14-hour flight from Dubai, but was ushered into an isolation room under police guard when Australian officials said that his visa did not allow for medical exemptions.

A few hours after their arrival Goran Ivanisevic, the player’s coach, shared a picture on his Instagram account, with the comment and a series of emojis: “Not the most usual trip Down Under.”

Djokovic’s case had sparked confusion, with the government for the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is the state capital, saying it would not support his visa application.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews clarified the process on Wednesday.

“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,” Andrews said. “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 move by the Australian government is already causing ructions between Canberra and Belgrade.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he had spoken to Djokovic on the phone, telling him that “the whole of Serbia is with him and that our authorities are undertaking all measures in order that maltreatment of the world’s best tennis player ends as soon as possible”.

“In line with all standards of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, justice and truth.”

[embedded content]

The player’s father called for his son to receive a hero’s welcome on his return to Serbia.

“Our pride, our Novak is returning … We should all welcome him as deserved!” Srdjan Djokovic said on Instagram.

He claimed his son had been “held captive for five hours” at Melbourne airport.

“This is a fight for a libertarian world, this is not just a fight for Novak, but a fight for the whole world,” he told Sputnik’s Serbia media outlet.

Djokovic’s anti-vaccination stance could leave him facing a tough crowd in Melbourne if he were allowed to compete for his tenth title at the Open.

“I think it might get ugly,” Australian tennis great Rod Laver told News Corp. “I’d think the Victorian people would be thinking ‘Yes I’d love to see him play and compete, but at the same time there’s a right way and a wrong way’.

Paul McNamee, a former Australian Open tournament director and tennis professional, said Djokovic had followed the required steps to obtain a visa and should be allowed to play.

“So he deserves his day on court, not in court, in my opinion,” McNamee told ABC TV.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Montreal Canadiens place Alex Belzile on waivers, plus other injury updates – Habs Eyes on the Prize

Published

 on


The Montreal Canadiens have placed forward Alex Belzile on waivers on Monday.

The forward will be assigned to the Laval Rocket should he clear waivers. The 31-year-old was pointless in 11 games this season with the Canadiens. He has four goals and seven assists in 16 AHL games this season.

The team also provided several injury updates, as the new Vice President of Communications Chantal Machabée briefed the media before head coach Dominique Ducharme answered questions.

Joel Edmundson is back from Montreal after being in Manitoba and away from the team. There is no timeline on his return, and the same goes with Carey Price.

Jake Allen will undergo an MRI, while Paul Byron and Tyler Toffoli are nearing a return.

Cayden Primeau will start against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday afternoon. Laurent Dauphin and Josh Anderson also draw back in the lineup. Michael Pezzetta will be a healthy scratch.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Updates regarding the Canadiens' roster – NHL.com

Published

 on


GLENDALE – The Canadiens announced the following roster moves on Monday morning.

SHOP: Caufield Blue Socks

Forwards Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylonen were assigned to the Laval Rocket.

Meanwhile, defenseman Gianni Fairbrother has joined the Rocket and returned to training, having completed his period of isolation required by the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

The Canadiens will face the Coyotes in Arizona on Monday, January 17.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Novak Djokovic could be barred from French Open if unvaccinated – CBC.ca

Published

 on


Novak Djokovic returned home Monday after being thwarted from defending his Australian Open title only to face a new predicament: He could be barred from the French Open this year, too, if he’s still not vaccinated against COVID-19.

A plane carrying the No. 1-ranked player touched down in his native Serbia, closing at least the first chapter in a dizzying drama that has resonance in the world of elite sports, Australia’s pandemic politics and the polarized debate over the coronavirus shots.

A handful of fans waving the Serbian flag greeted him at Belgrade’s airport. Djokovic has an almost iconic status in Serbia, and many there felt he was poorly treated by Australia.

But his troubles may not be over yet: He could be barred from the French Open this year, under a new law intended to exclude the unvaccinated from stadiums and other public places. Much could change between now and the start of the Grand Slam tournament in late May, but that raised the spectre the recent saga in Australia would be not just a blip but an ongoing challenge for the athlete, who is increasingly being held up as a hero by the anti-vaccine movement.

A member of the French Parliament, Christophe Castaner, said the new law will apply to anyone who wants to play in the French Open — a reversal of earlier plans to create a “bubble” around the tournament.

“To do your job, to come for pleasure or leisure, to practice a sport, it will be necessary to present a vaccine. This will be valid for people who live in France but also for foreigners who come to our country for vacation or for a major sports competition,” Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu told BFM television on Monday.

But some details of the law are still being hashed out, including how it will deal with people who have recently recovered from COVID-19, as Djokovic has. The question is how recent the infection must be to qualify for an exemption to vaccination rules. France’s sports ministry said Monday once the law is in place, there will be no exceptions until further notice.

WATCH | Djokovic deported from Australia after losing final appeal:

Novak Djokovic deported from Australia after losing final appeal

18 hours ago

Duration 2:01

Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic has been deported from Australia after losing his final appeal to not have his visa revoked, meaning he could not compete in the Australian Open. Djokovic’s lack of COVID-19 vaccination has galvanized tennis fans, Australians and become a rallying cry for anti-vaxxers. 2:01

Djokovic is also the defending champion at Wimbledon, which begins in late June. But so far, England has allowed exemptions from various coronavirus regulations for visiting athletes, if they remain at their accommodation when not competing or training. The U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open, has said it will follow government rules on vaccination status.

It’s also not clear when Djokovic could head back to Australia. Deportation can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that can be waived, depending on the circumstances.

For now, a warm welcome awaits Djokovic, who has overwhelming support in his native Serbia where his closest family lives. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the Australian government of “harassing” the top-ranked tennis star and urged him to return home.

Novak Djokovic plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday. A court upheld a decision by the immigration minister to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Denied entry to Australia

“God bless you Novak,” read one of the banners held by the fans at the airport as he was whisked through the passport control and customs and then driven by his brother Djordje to his apartment in Belgrade.

The official Tanjug news agency reported that Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, said her son will remain in Belgrade in the coming days and won’t make statements for the media.

WATCH | Djokovic says his agent made error on Australia entry form:

Novak Djokovic blames human error for inaccurate travel declaration

5 days ago

Duration 1:52

Novak Djokovic says human error is to blame for an inaccurate travel declaration form that claimed the tennis champion hadn’t travelled for two weeks before arriving in Australia for an upcoming tournament in Melbourne. 1:52

Djokovic’s Australian saga began when he was granted an exemption to strict vaccination rules by two medical panels and the tournament organizer in order to play in the Australian Open because he had recently recovered from COVID-19. He received a visa to enter the country through an automated process. But upon arrival, border officials said the exemption was not valid and moved to deport him.

The initial news that the star had been granted the exemption sparked anger in Australia, where strict lockdowns in cities and curbs on international travel have been employed to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

More than 95 per cent of all top 100 men and women tennis players in their tours’ respective rankings are vaccinated. At least two other men – American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert — skipped the Australian Open due to vaccine requirements.

In the end, Australian authorities revoked Djokovic’s visa, saying his presence could stir up anti-vaccine sentiment and kicking him out was necessary to keep Australians safe. He was deported Sunday, a day before the tournament got underway in Melbourne.

Djokovic has won nine titles there previously. He had hoped this year to secure his 21st Grand Slam singles trophy, breaking the record he shares with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, but Nadal is competing.

WATCH | Canadians to watch at Australian Open:

Canadians to watch at the 2022 Australian Open

3 days ago

Duration 3:17

CBC Sports’ Vivek Jacob walks through the Canadian tennis stars you should be watching as they gear up to compete in the 2022 Australian Open 3:17

As the legal battle played out in Australia, Djokovic acknowledged he had attended an interview in Belgrade in December with journalists from L’Equipe newspaper after testing positive for the coronavirus. He later described this “an error” of judgment.

Asked if Djokovic would face any penalties for flouting his isolation while being infected when he returns to Serbia, Serbian officials said he would not because the country is not in a state of emergency.

Djokovic is a national hero in Serbia, whose president had called the court hearing in Australia “a farce with a lot of lies.”

“Novak, welcome home, you know that we all support you here,” said Snezana Jankovic, a Belgrade resident. “They can take away your visa, but they cannot take away your Serbian pride.”

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending