Friday, January 28, 2022

Renata Voracova, who had same medical exemption as Novak Djokovic, gets visa canceled by Australian government

The 2022 Australian Open has already been impacted by the country’s response to COVID-19, as the Australian government has come down on No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic over his vaccination and visa status. In the background of Djokovic’s detainment by authorities, another tennis player has seen her status for the tournament affected as well.

According to a report by Tennis.com, Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic has had her visa cancelled by the Australian Border Force over her vaccination status, despite, like Djokovic, having previously been cleared to enter the country. Voracova had even already competed in a match while in the country. Voracova, the No. 81-ranked player in doubles, lost her opening match on Wednesday alongside Katarzyna Piter.

It is believed that Voracova had received a medical exemption for being unvaccinated, given that she had a prior COVID infection within the last six months — the very same reason cited by Djokovic. However, the government allegedly communicated on multiple occasions to Tennis Australia that such reasoning was not permissible. This led to some bewilderment as to how the exemption process with two independent panels had proceeded, as well as why Voracova’s entry into Australia was permitted in the first place.

On Friday, acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allen claimed that the government was unaware of Tennis Australia’s communication with health authorities.

“I’m advised that Victorian government officials were not aware or had not seen that correspondence,” Allan said. “We’re not involved in the movement and issuing of visas for individuals who may entering the country for work, business or event purposes. That’s not our role.”

While Djokovic has entered an appeals process in hopes of competing in the Australian Open (a decision that is expected to come on Monday), Tennis.com mentioned that it appeared Voracova would not pursue similar actions.

The rejection of unvaccinated players from the Australian Open by the Australian government, despite the tournament organizers giving medical exemptions, has put an international spotlight on the Australian government’s response to COVID. The arrest of Djokovic has been met with a particularly visceral reaction by Serbia, where celebrities and politicians have called Djokovic the victim of “despicable political harassment” over his vaccination status.

In a statement, the Serbian foreign ministry stated they had a strong impression that Djokovic is “a victim of a political game against his will.”

“Novak Djokovic is not a criminal, terrorist or illegal migrant, but he was treated that way by the Australian authorities, which is causing understandable indignation of his fans and citizens of Serbia,” read a formal statement by the ministry.

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