Second player faces deportation as Novak Djokovic saga leads to fresh medical exemption investigations

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Second player faces deportation as Novak Djokovic saga leads to fresh medical exemption investigations
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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player

Another Australian Open player has had their visa cancelled with at least two more being investigated amid the Novak Djokovic deportation row.

According to reports in Australia, Renata Voracova has been detained at the same Melbourne quarantine hotel as Djokovic after she is also believed to have entered Australia with a similar vaccine exemption.

The player from the Czech Republic is thought to have arrived in Australia last month and has already played in a warm-up tournament in Melbourne.

Despite that, a government source told ABC that Voracova has been moved to the Park Hotel in Carlton and told to leave the country. The 38-year-old, like Djokovic, could yet appeal the decision.

It is thought that two other unnamed players already granted entry into Australia were given visas under the same exemption awarded to the world No1.

It comes amid a leaked letter in the Herald Sun from Tennis Australia to the ATP wrongly informing Djokovic and other unvaccinated players that they could enter Australia if having tested positive for Covid in the past six months.

It is believed Djokovic applied for his exemption on these grounds. But Tennis Australia, according to another letter, had already been informed by the Australian Government in November that a prior infection would not make unvaccinated players eligible for entry.

In that, Australian health minister Greg Hunt had told Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley: “The Australian Border Force has advised that people must be fully gain quarantine-free entry into Australia.

“I can confirm that people who contracted Covid-19 within the past six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved or recognised vaccine are not considered fully vaccinated.”

Djokovic was told on Friday by the Australian Government that he was free to leave the country at any point as his family and supporters likened his refused entry to imprisonment. A hearing on Monday will finally decide his fate and his bid to defend his Australian Open title.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Today, Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said they had received intelligence of players allowed into the country incorrectly with more carrying the same medical exemption set to arrive in the coming days.

She said: “We do have intelligence to indicate there are some individuals here now that have not met the entry requirements and we have to investigate that.”

Andrews also stressed that Djokovic’s eligibility to be in Australia was not to do with his visa but around the medical exemption he had previously been granted.

“I know there is a lot of chatter about the visa,” she said. “The visa, on my understanding, is not the issue, it is the entry requirement. Border force has been very clear that he was not able to meet the requirement to provide the evidence needed for entry to Australia.”

The Serbian foreign ministry claimed that Djokovic was “a victim of a political game against his will and that he was lured to Australia in order to be humiliated”.

But Andrews insisted that he was free to leave at any time ahead of Monday’s hearing. “Djokovic is not being held captive in Australia,” she said. “He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so and border force will actually facilitate that.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has received an unlikely backer in Nick Kyrgios. The pair have had a frosty relationship but the Australian said he had sympathy with his fellow professional’s plight.

“Look, I definitely believe in taking action,” he wrote on social media.

“I got vaccinated because others and my mum’s health but how we are handling Novak’s situation is bad, really bad. Like these memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions but, at the end of the day, he is human. Do better.”

Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker, meanwhile, said the player was “making a big mistake in not getting vaccinated”.

He wrote in the Daily Mail: “It is one that threatens what remains of his career and his chance to cement himself as the greatest player of all time.

“I am fully aware of his great strengths. Yet these strengths can also be weaknesses. The same incredible determination which I saw win so many close matches can be a vulnerability with his stubbornness. I would urge him to get vaccinated.”

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