Australia has cancelled the visa of Czech tennis player Renata Voracova, who had entered the country to play in the Australian Open.
She is being held in the same hotel as Serbian star Novak Djokovic, who is appealing the cancellation of his visa.
Djokovic’s initial exmeption from vaccine requirements for unspecified reasons angered many Australians.
But the Czech government said Voracova entered Australia on a valid exemption, because of a recent Covid-19 infection.
It says she will now withdraw from the tournament and leave Australia.
The Australian government said on Friday that a recent infection does not mean a foreign national can travel to the country without being fully vaccinated.
More than 90% of Australia’s adult population has had at least two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, but many still face restrictions as Covid case numbers rise.
The initial decision to issue a visa to Djokovic caused anger amongst many Australians, who said that sports stars should be treated the same as everybody else. The Serbian star is known for his opposition to vaccines.
The Australian Open begins on 17 January in Melbourne.
Tensions and emotions have been high outside the hotel where Novak Djokovic is being kept. His supporters were there well after midnight.
Some wrote “stay strong” in big yellow letters on the pavement. Others lit candles.
“It’s [the Orthodox] Christmas,” a woman told me, visibly emotional. “He’ll be alone up there. It’s a farce.”
There are many strands to this story. The anger. The politics. The visa. And of course, the tennis – which is what the world number one is here for.
Djokovic fans are furious that he’s been allowed to come all the way to Australia only to be told he had to leave on a visa technicality.
But other Australians are outraged that a world-class athlete who’s been vocal about his vaccine opposition was granted an exemption, while their own politicians have urged them for nearly a year now to get both jabs and now the booster.
Both shades of anger are understandable and they have at least one thing in common: fury about how the authorities have handled this.
There has been a continuous tussle – and lots of blame-shifting – between the state and federal governments and Tennis Australia.
Politicians have wanted to prove that they can control who comes in and out of the country but in doing so they have lost control of the narrative.
It’s an embarrassing situation for Australia whichever way you look at it.
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