Detention felt like being in an action movie for Czech tennis player Renata Voracova, but the worst feeling came when she learned her visa would be cancelled ahead of the Australian Open, she told Czech media.
Voracova this week joined men’s number one Novak Djokovic in Australian immigration detention in a furore over the handling of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine exemptions.
She had entered Australia and played in Melbourne before being detained on Thursday, she said in an interview with news site idnes.cz, published on Friday.
“I can’t say they were mean to me,” Voracova was quoted as saying, when asked about being questioned by authorities. “But I was not prepared for the way everything played out. I felt like being in an action film.”
“Several practices in quarantine are not pleasant. You have to report and everything is allotted. I feel a bit like in prison,” she said from the Melbourne hotel where she said she is confined to her room, with the windows shut and escorts in the hallway.
“I felt the worst when they told me they would cancel my visa. Even the lawyer who was with me said I had all the necessary confirmation (documents) in order,” she said.
Voracova said she got the exemption because she had recovered from having COVID-19 before Christmas.
Australia’s government has released a letter showing it wrote to Tennis Australia, the local organising body, in November saying that prior infection with COVID-19 was not necessarily grounds for exemption in Australia, as it was elsewhere.
She said she does not oppose vaccinations but did not have time to get the shot after the last season, as she had planned to.
The doubles specialist said she was still waiting to leave the country after deciding not to appeal the decision.
Voracova said she hoped Djokovic’s legal challenge against the rejection of his visa would be successful and that she came to Australia to concentrate on tennis, not visa disputes.
“I want them to let (Djokovic) play. We are athletes, we came because of tennis,” she said.