Czech WTA player Renata Voracova has joined Novak Djokovic in the detention hotel as the authorities decided to cancel her visa, more than a week after she had already entered Melbourne, Australia.
ATP world No.1 Djokovic didn’t manage to get into Australia because his COVID-19 vaccine exemption documentation was marked as incomplete. We can argue whether or not his paperwork was sufficient or not, but Voracova’s case leaves little room for logic.
The Czech doubles world No.81 had already played a doubles match at the Melbourne Summer Set 2 tournament, when the authorities decided that the reason for her vaccination exemption was invalid. Voracova has recently recovered from COVID-19, so she was initially permitted to enter Australia without being vaccinated. However, the Australian government has now decided that a recent coronavirus infection does not mean a foreigner can travel to Australia without proof of full vaccination.
The 38-year-old Voracova has decided to leave Australia as soon as possible and will not play the 2022 Australian Open. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement, demanding answers from Australia:
She held a valid medical exemption from COVID vaccination and until yesterday the Australian authorities had no problem with her stay in the country. The Embassy of the Czech Republic in Canberra sent a note to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade asking for a thorough explanation of the situation, an explanation of the circumstances of her detention and an explanation of why our player was taken to a detention hotel.
As most countries consider, COVID-19 vaccination should never immediately follow natural infection. At least some time should pass between the recovery and vaccine. We can argue that Voracova should have taken the vaccine earlier, but still, at present her immunity should be on par with vaccinated players. The fact that she had already spent over a week in Australia, makes the situation absolutely bizarre. Bureaucracy is taking precedence over reason. What do you think? Do you have a different opinion?
WOW. Unbelievable. Bureaucracy is a mess over there.
It seems what happened here is that one part of the government didn’t know what the other part of the government was doing. So the part that issues the visa for Djokovic didn’t communicate with the part that decides what are the criteria for the visa. Might seem obvious to do so, but…. And Tennis Australia were saying that it’s the government’s responsibility not theirs, while lobbying behind the scenes for an exception to be made for tennis players.
Then Djokovic came along, and he is very unpopular in Australia right now (except among Serbians who apparently think he is god), so they had a close look at his visa and realised it wasn’t covered. Most Australians would prefer him not to be allowed in, but agree that this should have been worked out before he turned up on the doorstep.
And then the government realised that they would look really bad if they sent Djokovic home but let other players who had come the same way keep playing. So they obviously checked all the tennis players’ visas and found that Renata was similar so she is kicked out too.
So it’s not actually bureaucracy gone mad, it’s an incompetent government. The federal system, in which the central government is responsible for some things and the state governments responsible for others, doesn’t help either. It’s easy for each to blame the other when things don’t work.
My opinion is that everyone who comes here should be vaccinated and that Djokovic is not welcome, and neither is Renata. As Ben Rotherburg said in the US, they have both had plenty of time to get vaccinated even if they have had COVID. It’s what is required for their job as it is for many other jobs.
Both Djokovic and Benata should go home – they are not welcome, knew the risks, didn’t comply and came anyway. Just get the vaccine and they’d be no problems, rules are rules.
Djokovic had 2 different court cases on Thursday to come, but was not ready for either, so he CHOSE to stay til Monday until court re-opened. I don’t feel sorry for him at all.
CLT, thank you for your detailed insight, I really appreciate it. You nicely explained the situation and your point of view.
What I can’t really grasp is whether the goal of Australia is to have everyone vaccinated or to prevent the spread of COVID? If the latter is the goal, then Renata Voracova should be very welcome in the country with her natural immunity. What is absolutely ridiculous is that they are taking her out now that she had already spent over a week in the country. Even if they had let her in as COVID positive and then over a week later realized their mistake, they should’ve let it go as it was too late.
On the other hand, maybe it is even better for Renata to not play. COVID can be very dangerous and even if you feel perfectly fine, you should wait as long as possible (even two months) after the infection to resume training.
Jacob, thank you for this information about those two court cases on Thursday, I didn’t know that. From what I heard, watching Djokovic’s father, Tennis Australia was preparing Djokovic’s documentation, just as for all the other players who needed exemptions, but only Djokovic’s documentation turned out to be faulty. There still are unvaccinated players who have been allowed in.
Marija, basically the thinking is that vaccination is the rule for all people coming to Australia and there should be no exceptions unless you have a genuine medical reason for an exemption, and having a prior infection is in itself not regarded as a genuine reason when you have otherwise had plenty of opportunity to get vaccinated. In Renata’s case they obviously made a mistake letting her in but they are sticking to the principle and reversing that.
Australians have made a big commitment to vaccination and have one of the highest rates in the world. There is a very strong feeling that tennis players should not be exceptions to this rule just because they are rich and famous, especially when many Australians who are vaccinated have been unable to return here. And Djokovic carrying on like a turkey about not being able to have access to his personal chef etc etc is just making people dislike him even more. Australia is a relatively egalitarian country and we don’t like people who are, as we say, ‘up themselves’.
CLT, great explanation, thank you for that. I understand the reasoning of Australians and I support it to a great extent. Since you are vaccinated to such a great extent, and you all agree that it is the right way to go, you have every right to organize your country the way the vast majority considers is right and make your own rules. For other people who want to come to Australia, as the saying says: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
I also understand Novak and Serbian perspective, as Serbian mentality and life circumstances are completely different. First of all, as I said, Serbian vaccination level is about 58%. Moreover, Serbia experienced very mild lockdowns compared to the rest of the world and people tend to live as if there is no corona (Serbs kiss, hug, organize gatherings, wear mask sporadically, etc.) Of course, there are also those who are more on the safe side, but I am speaking about general atmosphere. Secondly, our society is far from egalitarian and any champion would get a red carpet and a free pass without questions. Thirdly, Serbs are exceptionally hospitable, so it would be considered extremely rude to treat your “guest” as a prisoner, especially if that guest is a renowned person.
The main problem here, however, is that miscommunication in the Australian government, as you mentioned. As I understand, the players all got their visas, which were then revoked at the border, or even later in Renata’s case. They should’ve rejected their visas at the moment of application. Now it comes down to, who should bear the consequences: the government for their mistake or the players.
CLT Bureaucracy equals government, so therefore it IS bureaucracy or government gone mad or being incapable in Australia. I have a medical condition that precludes me from getting any non core vaccination, and my doctor and oncologist helped me with an informed decision to not get vaccinated for Covid. Perhaps Nole may have some condition that precludes him too. At least he didn’t provide some “fake” vaccination passport like a well known athlete, Antonio Brown (NFL) did over here in the states, or take advantage of the many variety of Covid tests that can provide misleading results. Personally, as someone who is in the science field (veterinarian) as is my wife (RN), we believe that legitimate vaccine trials take years to get legitimate results, unlike the time spent on the Covid vaccine trials. We have never got the influenza vaccine, and neither of us have ever had the flu or even a cold in decades. And I am not an antivaxxer. I have had tetanus boosters every 10 years, and early on in my career got pre-exposure rabies vaccinations because of the threat of being bitten in my profession. And now I would get a rabies post exposure vaccination and immunoglobulin treatment because the mortality rate of that disease is 99.9999%, not 2% as it is with Covid and even far less in someone who is Novak’s age, and very healthy. Plus the Rabies vacc and treatment is 100 % effective unlike the Covid vacc., where people can still get ill. Just let Novak (and Renata) play. He will wear an N95 mask and separate. Like I said in another thread, if this had been Roger Federer or Serena Williams in the same exact scenario, you can bet the Australian “government” or “bureaucracy” would have turned a blind eye and through some “unwritten” rule let them in and play. And I am not even a Djokovic fan; Dominic Thiem is my guy.
So go ahead with your collectivism, Australia, where everyone should abide and do a good for the “team”, but in my honest opinion, with the treatment of Djokovic, the unfortunate Renata, and even their own citizens, tennis Australia, the Victorian state government, and the Australian Border “Farce” all have egg (and maybe something more odiferous) on their collective faces.
Marija, very interesting what you say about the Serbian perspective, it helps me to understand where they are coming from. Much more helpful than the Serbian President who says “Australia is bringing Serbia to its knees’ which just makes everybody laugh. Jon Wertheim in Sports Illustrated also says some interesting things about how Novak is seen as embodying Serbia in a way that other players from other countries are not.
Re approach to coronavirus, it would be interesting to see the death rates in the two countries per head of population – just looked it up – Serbia is 1,753.5 per million, Australia is 83 per million. So I guess that’s a choice that a country or a government makes about the way they want to approach it and what cost they are prepared to tolerate.
I do think Australia is a hospitable country too, we just don’t like people who expect special treatment (different from Serbia as you say). Maybe someone who is used to and expects that special treatment is going to find us rude.
And Jim, I certainly agree it was not well handled and the various governments have egg on their face. Plenty of us are very dissatisfied with the actions of the federal and state government and Border Force over this, coronavirus in general and other matters. Right now we are in the middle of Omicron chaos because of their hesitation and incompetence.
Jim, good point about that fake COVID pass. With his status and money, Djokovic could’ve acquired the COVID vaccine document very easily and in no time. I actually wondered why he didn’t do that. There might be more to this story than what we see.
CLT, I am glad to hear that my diplomacy is better than our president’s, which is not so hard, but still, it sounds good 😀 When it comes to numbers, I feel we should not compare just corona numbers, but look at the bigger picture, like the number of suicides and mental health problems, overall physical health, etc. Only when we take into account all the pros and cons can we make a final estimation. And as we have concluded in our conversation, every nation has a different balance of what they can take and what is good for them.
Australia apparently misinformed players and instead of letting it go because they are the ones who made the mistake, they are making the players suffer. I figure that is the main issue. If players knew right away that their exemptions would not be valid, they wouldn’t have traveled to Australia.