Unvaccinated tennis star in Djokovic hotel is deported
Czech doubles player Renata Voracova flew out of Melbourne airport on Saturday after her immigration clearance was revoked by Australian authorities because of her vaccine status, according to the Czech Foreign Ministry.
Unvaccinated Voracova, who had already competed at a warm-up event in Melbourne after initially being granted access to the country, opted to leave voluntarily after she became embroiled in the saga over Australia's handling of medical exemptions for unvaccinated players entering the country ahead of the start of the Australian Open on January 17.
The 38-year-old doubles specialist was being held at the same detention hotel as world number one Novak Djokovic, the defending Australian Open champion whose ongoing row with immigration authorities has gripped the sports world in recent days.
Screenshot from the IG story of Renata Voracova, presumably from the hotel her and Djokovic are currently in pic.twitter.com/7DvKRtNRKD— Michael (@lobwinners) January 7, 2022
While Djokovic has chosen to await a Monday hearing which should provide final clarity on whether he will be deported or cleared to defend his title, Voracova has not waited.
"Voracova left Australia on Saturday based on her own decision to end her participation in the tournament due to complications with her visas," the Czech Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The decision was not based on her expulsion from the country," they added, also noting that they were yet to receive a response from Australian officials to a diplomatic inquiry they made on Friday.
As with Djokovic, Voracova is unvaccinated against Covid-19 and claims she was diagnosed with the virus in late 2020 at around the same time she was planning on receiving a vaccine.
She said she subsequently applied for and was granted a medical exemption by an independent medical panel arranged by Tennis Australia.
Commenting after her detention, she was keen to distance herself from what she sees as Djokovic's hardline stance.
"I’m not like Djokovic – I’m not completely against vaccination. As I say, our cases are very different," she told idnes.cz via the Brisbane Times.
“I was busy. I planned [to get vaccinated] for weeks after the season and unfortunately... I actually caught COVID at that time.
"I did everything they asked me to do. Apparently, Tennis Australia has misled us, which is annoying.
"I wanted to focus on tennis, not visas [and] quarantine. It’s really weird that I spent a week here, played a match and then they came for me.
"It was an onslaught on my psyche. I felt the worst when they told me they would cancel my visa. Even the lawyer sitting there with me said that I had all the necessary confirmations correct.
"They really didn’t act rudely or vulgar. But some quarantine practices are not pleasant. You have to report, everything is allotted. It feels a bit like a prison."
The Australian Border Force (ABF) had previously stated that it was investigating the immigration applications of two further individuals after Djokovic's detention. While they didn't name them, the Czech government has confirmed that one of them was Voracova.
The other is reported to be a non-playing official who has also left the country.
"The [ABF] investigation into the visa status of two other individuals connected to the Australian Open has concluded," they said on Saturday.
"The ABF can confirm both individuals have now voluntarily departed Australia."