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13 Jan, 2022 19:16

Five other Australian Open vaccine outcasts as Djokovic battles deportation

A string of tennis players will miss the first tennis Grand Slam of 2022 for vaccine-related reasons
Five other Australian Open vaccine outcasts as Djokovic battles deportation

Novak Djokovic has been made a pariah for arriving Down Under unvaccinated. Here, we list five other players who will also be missing from Melbourne Park over the next fortnight in reasons related to the jab.

Tennys Sandgren

A two-time Australian Open quarterfinalist at the competition, the American didn't even apply for a medical exemption for this year's showpiece and said he wouldn't have met any of the criteria either.

Making his feelings known, world number 96 Sandgren has voiced outrage over Djokovic's visa saga on Twitter and said that Australia "doesn't deserve to host a Grand Slam" due to the debacle.

"They are now retroactively detaining players who they previously let into the country with medical exemptions," he remarked after the unvaccinated Renata Voracova was taken in for questioning by Australian Border Force officers before being booted out of the country.

"This isn’t about the rules, This is pure authoritarian politics," added the unvaccinated star. 

Pierre-Hugues Herbert

The Frenchman is out due reasons partly related to the mandate and stated"Personally, I am not vaccinated and the trip to Australia was not an option for me.

"It is certain that from the moment when I could not go there without being vaccinated, it necessarily complicated things.

"And there is not only Australia. Today, there is the United States, Austria… It is a rather complex topic," the 30-year-old ranked number 8 in men's doubles admitted.

"On the other hand, it is a personal choice not to get the vaccine," he stressed, while his partner Nicolas Mahut, who he won the men's doubles title with at the Australian Open in 2019 has backed him.

"I respect his decision. I didn’t make that choice, I got vaccinated very early on, but I totally understand. It’s a very personal choice," said Mahut.

Olivia Gadecki

The only Australian on this list, Gadecki made headlines for becoming the first unranked teenager to beat a Top 10 player in 24 years when she toppled former 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the second round of the Phillip Island Trophy on Valentine's Day last year.

Now number 238 in the women's singles rankings, she opted not to be vaccinated despite Tennis Australia reportedly spending weeks trying to change her mind. 

Natalia Vikhlyantseva

Unlike the rest of the list, the Russian number 195 in the women's singles rankings has actually received her jabs.

The problem is, they aren't with the right vaccine, according to the Aussie authorities. 

Despite being accepted in over 77 countries and administered to millions around the world, Russia's Sputnik V is not recognized Down Under and this left Vikhlyantseva upset at missing out in Melbourne.

"Good luck for all [the] participants and [the] AO team, who always made amazing events!" said the 24-year-old when she wouldn't be able to face a chance at reaching the main draw, even if through qualifying. 

Renata Voracova

The last name on our list actually made it into Australia before being ignonimiously kicked out. 

Czech number 81 in women's doubles Voracova has suffered an ordeal arguably as bad as Djokovic's.

Granted an exemption due to contracting Covid in December, and even allowed to play a match in a warm-up tournament, this still didn't satisfy Aussie immigration.

Under new scrutiny in the wake of the Djokovic saga, Voracova was marched her from her accommodation for six hours' worth of questioning before she had her visa ripped up and decided to leave the country.  

"I felt a little bit like a criminal, but there was no reason why I should feel like that. I sent all the documents. They were approved. If I knew there would be even a 1% chance of something not being right, I wouldn’t go," she explained.

Revealing plans to demand compensation from Tennis Australia, she has been backed by the WTA, which said: "Renata Voracova followed these rules and procedures, was cleared for entry upon her arrival, competed in an event, and then suddenly had her visa canceled when she had done nothing wrong.

"We will continue to work with all authorities on addressing this unfortunate situation in an appropriate manner."