Two tennis players who were allowed to enter Australia under medical exemption have now left the country.
Most important points:
- Two tennis players who came to Australia with medical exemptions have now left the country after Novak Djokovic’s arrest
- The players were allowed to enter the country and moved freely through Melbourne before departing
- The world’s number one is still waiting for immigration secretary Alex Hawke to decide whether to cancel his visa
Sources close to the players have confirmed to The Ticket that they have left Australia following the arrest of Novak Djokovic on his arrival and the eviction of Czech player Renata Voracova and an official.
Before Djokovic arrived in Melbourne last week, the group was allowed to enter the country and roamed freely in Melbourne.
The federal government has said there has been no shift in government policy before and after the arrival of the world number one.
While Djokovic has confirmed that he had not been vaccinated and sought medical clearance based on recent COVID-19, it is not clear how four others – three players and an official – were allowed to pass through immigration.
The Australian Border Force has been contacted for comment.
The rise of two more players on waivers in Australia adds to confusion over the handling of tennis players by border officials on arrival.
The Department of Health issued advice to Australian Open officials on Nov. 18, who said in part:
“ATAGI is not responsible for border control issues, but the Australian Border Force has advised that people must meet ATAGI’s fully vaccinated definition in order to gain quarantine-free access to Australia.”
A letter from Health Minister Greg Hunt to Tennis Australia on Nov. 29, seeking further clarification, read: “…the Australian Border Force has advised that people should be fully vaccinated, as defined by the ATAGI, to ensure quarantine-free access.” to get to Australia.”
Confusion about ATAGI advice
The ATAGI advisory on “the definition of fully vaccinated” is available here and was last updated on December 15.
It notes that natural immunity to previous infections “is recognized as fully vaccinated in several European countries”, but it concludes that a double dose of the vaccine is required to be considered fully vaccinated.
“While there is some evidence that prior infection reduces the risk of re-infection for at least six months (and therefore may be considered a temporary vaccine exemption for up to six months), ATAGI recommends taking two doses of a TGA-approved or TGA-recognized COVID-19 vaccine on the recommended schedule is still required to be considered fully vaccinated.
“Previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 is not a contraindication to vaccination.”
In a separate section, however, the advice regarding contamination in the past may give rise to an exemption.
“COVID-19 vaccination in people who have had a PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection may be delayed for up to six months after acute illness, as a temporary exemption due to an acute serious medical condition.”
As this confusion continues to unravel, Novak Djokovic prepares to enter the tournament that has made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Djokovic was drawn on Thursday as the leader of the competition and will face compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round.
He was allowed to play after winning an appeal in federal court that overturned his originally canceled visa.
However, the final decision on whether Djokovic will compete for his record-breaking 21st grand slam rests with federal immigration minister Alex Hawke, who has the power to revoke his visa regardless of the court’s ruling.
A decision is expected before the opening round of the tournament.