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Novak Djokovic's deportation over vaccination status exposes Australian border policy

This screen grab from AFPTV shows Serbia's Novak Djokovic (R) as he disembarks from his plane at the airport in Dubai after losing a legal battle to stay and play in the Australian Open over his coronavirus vaccination status. (Photo by STR/AFPTV/AFP Weary after two years of some of the harshest COVID-19 border restrictions in the world, many Australians wanted Novak Djokovic kicked out of their country for traveling to a tennis tournament in their country without being vaccinated.But the backdrop to the government's tough line on the defending Australian Open champion — and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s description of the expulsion as a "decision to keep our borders strong" — dates to nearly a decade ago.

It also shines a light on Australia's complicated, and strongly criticized, immigration and border policies.Back in 2013, the border issue wasn't unvaccinated foreigners like Djokovic but thousands of asylum seekers from Asia, the Middle East and Africa who flocked to Australia on rickety fishing boats from Indonesian ports. Now, with the next election due by May, Djokovic has become the new focus of the government’s claim to a tough stance on border protection that leaders hope will win votes.

The opposition, meanwhile, argues that Djokovic has exposed government failures in border control and its pandemic response.Refugee activists say the tennis star's treatment exposes the harsh treatment of dozens of others detained because of visa issues.Widespread anger followed a Djokovic post on social media on Jan. 4 that said he had been granted "exemption permission" to fly quarantine-free to Australia to play tennis.

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This screen grab from AFPTV shows Serbia's Novak Djokovic (R) as he disembarks from his plane at the airport in Dubai after losing a legal battle to stay and play in the Australian Open over his coronavirus vaccination status. (Photo by STR/AFPTV/AFP Weary after two years of some of the harshest COVID-19 border restrictions in the world, many Australians wanted Novak Djokovic kicked out of their country for traveling to a tennis tournament in their country without being vaccinated.But the backdrop to the government's tough line on the defending Australian Open champion — and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s description of the expulsion as a "decision to keep our borders strong" — dates to nearly a decade ago.
Novak Djokovic had a vaccine exemption to enter Australia after contracting Covid-19 last month, his lawyers said in a court filing on Saturday.

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