Novak Djokovic was confronted with visa exchange when he landed in Australia

Novak Djokovic landed in Melbourne on Wednesday amid a political maelstrom due to his medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirements, with a visa error that added world number one problems ahead of the Australian Open.

Djokovic landed at Tullamarine airport around 11.30pm local time, but was waiting for permission to enter the country after it emerged his team had applied for a visa that does not allow for medical exemptions.

It prompted the local government in Victoria, the state where the Open is being held, to say they would not support Djokovic’s application, and put his fate in the hands of the federal government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Morrison has faced a huge setback over his government’s decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption from vaccination to play at the Open, where the player would bid for a record-breaking 21st major title.

Australia, particularly the state of Victoria, has endured the world’s longest cumulative lockdown, and an outbreak of the Omicron variant has sent case numbers to record levels.

Following the setback, Morrison suggested that Djokovic’s participation was not a final agreement and that he would have to satisfy the federal government, which is responsible for international borders and visas and was not part of the exemption process.

Morrison said shortly before Djokovic’s arrival that there would be “no special rules” for him regarding his release.

“If this evidence is insufficient, then he will not be treated any differently than anyone else and he will be on the next flight home,” Morrison said earlier at a media conference.

VISUM BUNGLE

Djokovic got on an Emirates plane, but when border officials contacted the Victorian government to ask if the state would formally support the world number one visa, it said it would not.

“The federal government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia,” said Victoria’s acting sports minister Jaala Pulford.

“We will not provide Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.

“We have always been clear on two points: visa approval is a matter for the federal government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors.”

It was not clear whether the federal government would allow his entry. Boundary strength could not be reached for comment.

Tennis Australia and officials quickly moved to stress that Djokovic, who has said he is opposed to COVID-19 vaccinations, had not received any preferential treatment.

VREDE AUSSIER

Djokovic, who has won nine titles at Melbourne Park including the last three, confirmed on Tuesday that he had received a vaccination exemption to allow him to play at the Australian Open, which starts on 17 January.

Australian tennis giant Rod Laver, after whom Melbourne Central Station in Victoria Park is named, warned that Djokovic could be exposed to hostility from local audiences.

“I think it can get ugly,” Laver told News Corp. “I would think the Victorian people would think ‘Yes, I would love to see him play and compete, but at the same time there is a right way and a wrong way.’

“Yeah, you’re a great player and you’ve performed and won so many tournaments so it can not be physical. So what’s the problem?”

Melbourne local Christine Wharton said it was a “disgrace”.

“We’ve all done the right thing, we’re all gone out and got our jabs and our boosters, and we have someone who’s come from abroad, and suddenly he’s been exempted and can play, and I think that’s an absolute disgrace, and I will not see it. “

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