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05th Jan 2022

Novak Djokovic told he’ll ‘be on next plane home’ if he can’t provide Covid exemption proof

Callum Boyle

‘If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else’

Novak Djokovic has been told by the Australian prime minister that he will “be on the next plane home” if he is unable to provide “acceptable proof” as to why he hasn’t received a Covid-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has refused to confirm whether he is vaccinated or not on a number of occasions, leading to doubts over whether he would participate at the Australian Open given the country’s strict vaccination policy.

The decision to allow the Serbian to enter the country has been met with widespread criticism from Australians, who have labelled the decision as a ‘slap in the face’ after being forced to live through several strict lockdowns throughout the pandemic.

When questioned over whether Djokovic’s proof of exemption would be deemed acceptable, prime minister Scott Morrison insisted that the world number one won’t be given any special treatment when it comes to entry requirements.

“Any individual seeking to enter Australia must comply with our border requirements,” he said, as reported by Sky News.

“He has to because if he’s not vaccinated, he must provide acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and to be able to access the same travel arrangements, as fully vaccinated travellers.

“So we await his presentation and what evidence he provides to support that. If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home.

“There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all, none whatsoever.”

Meanwhile the head of the Australian Open, Craig Tilley, says he understands the reaction, but reiterated that Djokovic has no legal obligation to reveal whether he is vaccinated or not.

He said: “We completely understand and empathise with … people being upset about the fact that Novak has come in, because of his statements over the past couple of years around vaccination.

“However, it’s ultimately up to him to discuss with the public his condition, if he chooses to do that, and the reasons why he received an exemption.”

The Australian Open is due to begin on January 17 in Melbourne.

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