Tennis Australia begged Home Affairs to review Novak Djokovic’s visa documents before boarding the plane
A correspondence leak revealed that Tennis Australia begged the Home Office to check Novak Djokovic’s visa documents before he boarded the plane.
A correspondence leak has revealed that Tennis Australia begged the Home Office to check visa documents for Novak Djokovic and other players before boarding the planes – a move that could have prevented the visa debacle.
But the request was denied by department officials, paving the way for the horrific war of words currently being waged between Australia and Serbia.
News.com.au has obtained letters describing growing concerns from Tennis Australia over the operation of medical exemptions dating back several months.
“We have discussed your questions with relevant officials within the ministry and with colleagues from the Home Office and the Australian Border Force,” reads the Nov. 17 letter from the Ministry of Health.
âTravelers who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons must provide a medical certificate stating that they cannot be vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine due to a health problem. “
The correspondence reveals that Tennis Australia had asked senior federal officials: “Is it possible for Tennis Australia to work with Health or Home Affairs to provide certificates to be reviewed several weeks before their departure date?” “
But in response, the Sports Ministry said that request was denied.
âHealth and Home Affairs are unable to provide or review the certificates. Certificates are reviewed at check-in, âthe letter said.
âAll travelers who wish to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ for the purpose of their trip must provide a vaccination certificate that meets the requirements stated above. Travelers must ensure that their certificate is compliant.
On November 17, Andrew Godkin, the first deputy secretary of the Australian Department of Health’s sports office, made it clear that no pre-approval for tennis player visas would be offered.
While correspondence repeatedly states that anyone who has been vaccinated will be reported, Tennis Australia’s unspoken concern is to secure the entry of unvaccinated players.
Under state-based exemptions, they could be allowed to skip quarantine on the grounds that they had recently contracted Covid-19 in the past six months.
Some of the confusion appears to have resulted from the fact that the medical exemption to bypass state-based quarantine when players arrived in Australia was completely separate from the federal process for approving entry into Australia for the purposes of Visa.
In other words, while tennis players may have obtained a medical exemption from quarantine even though they have not been vaccinated on the basis of infection in the past six months, this does not guarantee automatically that they are allowed to enter Australia.
In separate correspondence, Dr Allison Cairns, Australia’s chief medical officer, says medical exemptions are a matter of state.
“Medical exemptions from vaccination will be at the discretion of the state or territory, so it would probably be good to contact the receiving state sooner rather than later to determine if there will be a problem,” writes -she.
But while these state exemptions were granted to avoid quarantine, they provided no guarantees for unvaccinated players to enter Australia on a valid visa.
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