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Djokovic could not prove medical exemption to enter Australia, PM Morrison says

Djokovic could not prove medical exemption to enter Australia, PM Morrison says

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his third round match against Taylor Fritz of the United States at Australian Open in Melbourne on Feb 13, 2021. (File photo: Reuters/Loren Elliott)

SYDNEY: Novak Djokovic failed to provide sufficient proof to receive a medical exemption to enter Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday (Jan 6).

The Australian Border Force on Thursday cancelled the visa of Djokovic, the world number one tennis player, and denied him entry into the country to play in the Australian Open tournament after he was forced to wait for several hours at Melbourne Airport.

"All I can say is that the evidence (for) medical exemption that was provided was found to be insufficient," Morrison said during a media briefing in Canberra, adding that Djokovic was not "singled out" for scrutiny over his visa cancellation. 

Earlier on Thursday, Morrison addressed the cancellation in a tweet, saying that "no one is above rules".

"Djokovic's visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules," he tweeted.

"Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID-19, we are continuing to be vigilant."

The move by the Australian government threatened to cause a diplomatic incident between Canberra and Belgrade.

"I've just finished my telephone conversation with Novak Djokovic," Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic posted on Instagram.

"I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world's best tennis player is brought to an end immediately.

"In line with all norms of international law, Serbia will fight for Novak, truth and justice. Novak is strong, as we all know."

Vucic had summoned the Australian ambassador in Belgrade and demanded that they immediately release Djokovic to play, Serbian media reported.

Source: Reuters/kg


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