Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested that Novak Djokovic would not be allowed to stay in the country and play in the Australian Open unless he can justify a medical exemption allowing him not to be vaccinated against Covid.
Speaking ahead of any formal decision from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, Morrison declined to comment directly on Djokovic’s case on Thursday, but said he expected authorities “to implement the policy of government ”to allow only fully vaccinated or medically exempt people to enter. Australia.
Djokovic received a visa on November 18 and arrived in Melbourne on January 5 with an exemption approved by Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer and a panel of independent experts from the Victorian government.
However, Djokovic was detained and his visa canceled on the grounds that a recent Covid infection was not in itself sufficient for an exemption from Australia’s strict vaccination requirements.
Although Djokovic won a court battle on Monday to reinstate the visa, he faces a nervous wait as Hawke decides whether he needs to exercise separate power to cancel it again.
On Thursday, Morrison referred to a statement by Hawke on Wednesday that the Immigration Minister was still considering revoking Djokovic’s visa.
But the prime minister also said people coming to Australia – like working holidaymakers – need to be doubly vaccinated to enter the country.
When asked if non-resident non-citizens who are not doubly vaccinated pose a risk to public health, Morrison sidestepped Djokovic’s case by citing “other issues under consideration right now. “.
“All I will just say is why we have since December 15th, where fully immunized eligible visa holders could travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption… this person has to show that she is doubly vaccinated or must provide acceptable proof that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, ”he said.
“This is the policy, this policy has not changed… of course, we would expect the authorities to implement the government policy regarding these matters.”
Morrison noted that non-resident non-citizens could have obtained a visa but that did not guarantee that they met the conditions to enter the country.
“They may have gotten a visa recently, they may have gotten a visa some time ago and come back, when some of those problems weren’t there then,” he said.
“This is why it is important to distinguish between the visa and the condition of entry at the border. They are not one and the same and they are often confused and should not be.
“If you are not a citizen or resident, then the health rules that we have put in place to protect our borders [apply] – and our border protection policies have been at the heart of the government’s achievements when it comes to [to Covid] and Australia’s achievements in general in having one of the lowest death rates. “
On Wednesday, Djokovic admitted that his agent had made an “administrative error” in stating that he had not traveled in the two weeks before his flight to Australia and admitted an “error in judgment” in failing to say. not isolating in Belgrade after testing positive for Covid on December 16. .