Djokovic’s return: Australian Open players are 'not so happy'
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The WTA has issued a statement after Renata Voracova had her visa cancelled in the wake of the Novak Djokovic saga. The doubles player had successfully entered the country and even played a match before she had her visa revoked last Thursday, placed in the same government detention hotel as the Serb. But Voracova was deported while Djokovic appealed his visa cancellation and won.
Voracova was detained in Melbourne last Thursday after it emerged that two other people linked with the Australian Open had entered the country with the same medical exemption as Novak Djokovic.
Tennis Australia granted Djokovic, Voracova and an official with a vaccine medical exemption on the basis that they had a previous Covid infection in the last six months, but according to federal government this is not valid grounds for foreign nationals to gain exemption from being fully vaccinated.
Djokovic had his visa cancelled on Thursday morning after landing in Melbourne late on Wednesday, and border officials began investigating two others who had already entered the country on the same exemption.
The unnamed official willingly left the country last Thursday after having their visa cancelled, while Voracova was detained in the same government detention hotel that the world No 1 was staying in while awaiting his appeal hearing.
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The doubles world No 82 then left the country on Friday, and has since opened up on her time in the Park Hotel, saying she felt like she was “in prison”.
“We didn’t even use the normal lifts. We went through side lifts and total different ways (through the hotel) where people couldn’t see me. And then we went to the garage where there was a van,” she said.
The Czech player, who competed in a doubles match last Wednesday and lost, also said she would be seeking compensation from Tennis Australia for “time, hotels, training for the Grand Slam, and potential prize money,” after revealing she wasn’t informed she could appeal the decision like Djokovic.
The WTA has since responded, and in a statement on Wednesday said the doubles star had “done nothing wrong”.
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“The WTA is supportive and appreciative of all the efforts put forth by Craig Tiley and Tennis Australia to host the Summer of Tennis under conditions that continue to be challenging for all,” the governing body for women’s tennis said.
“The WTA believes that all players should be vaccinated and is in full support of the immigration policies that have been put in place as the protection of the Australian communities in which we compete is critical.
“That being said, the complications experienced over the past few days where athletes have followed the approved and authorized process of receiving a medical exemption for entry into the country are unfortunate.”
Defending the world No 82 doubles player, the WTA continued: “Renata Voracova followed these rules and procedures, was cleared for entry upon her arrival, competed in an event and then suddenly had her visa cancelled when she had done nothing wrong.
“We will continue to work with all authorities on addressing this unfortunate situation in an appropriate manner.”
When Djokovic first announced he had received an exemption last Tuesday, Tennis Australia said medical exemptions had been granted “following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” one of which was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health.
They said all applications were assessed in line with Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines.
But leaked letters later showed that Australia’s Health Minister, as well as a representative for the Department of Health, had both written to the Tennis Australia CEO in November to inform him that prior Covid infection was not valid grounds for a medical exemption and could not be accepted at the border.
Renata Voracova entered Australia with the same medical exemption as Novak Djokovic
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