Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he’s been told world tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic didn’t have a proper medical exemption to enter Australia.
Djokovic has been barred from entering Australia after receiving a green light to play in the Australian Open from Victorian and Tennis Australia officials.
Morrison says Australia has “strong form” in securing borders.
“I want to thank the border officers for doing their job implementing the government’s policies, they haven’t done it their job, entry with a visa requires double vaccination, or a medical exemption,” Morrison says.
“I am advised that such an exemption was not in place, and as a result, he is subject to the same rule as anyone else.”
Morrison’s praise for federal officials is a backflip from his previous attempts to deflect the issue to the Victorian government, which does not oversee visas.
On Wednesday, Morrison said: “They [the Victorian government] have provided him with an exemption to come to Australia, and so we then act in accordance with that decision.
“States provide exemptions for people to enter on this basis, and that’s been happening for the last two years. So, there’s no change to that arrangement. The Victorian government made their decision on that. And so, I’d have to refer to the Victoria government about their reasons for doing so.
The federal government recently relaxed rules, allowing unvaccinated people with a medical exemption to enter Australia.
Djokovic ‘unable to furnish proof’ he was exempt
Morrison tells non-citizen arrivals that what matters is “what you are responsible for when you arrive at the border”.
“It is on them to have the proof to show why they would not have to be vaccinated,” Morrison says.
“He was unable to furnish that proof to Border Force offices at the airport last night, and they are the rules, and it happens on many occasions and that is what has now happened.”
Djokovic was granted a medical exemption – by two blind, independent panels – to play in the Australian Open.
Morrison says he’s been told Djokovic didn’t have a proper medical exemption to enter Australia.
Serbia is a ‘good friend of Australia’
Morrison says the banning of Djokovic is not a reflection of Australia’s relationship with the superstar’s native Serbia.
“In fact, Serbia has been a good friend of Australia and provided very strong support particularly on security issues globally, and we greatly appreciate that,” Morrison says.
“This is a very specific case that deals with one individual and Australia’s sovereign border laws and their fair application.”