Novak Djokovic has been denied entry into Australia after his visa was cancelled by border force officials at Melbourne airport.
The world No 1 had announced on Tuesday that he was travelling to Australia on an “exemption permission”, but after landing in Melbourne on Wednesday evening he was held in isolation after reportedly attempting to enter the country on a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated against Covid-19.
After being held for several hours in the airport, during which he was placed in isolation in a police-guarded room, the Serbian’s visa was cancelled on Thursday morning in Australia.
An Australian Border Force statement read: “The ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled.
“Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia.
“The ABF can confirm Mr Djokovic had access to his phone.”
Novak Djokovic – Sequence of events
Djokovic announces he will be travelling to Australia with an ‘exemption permission’ on Tuesday, January 4.
While Djokovic is airborne, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the athlete will be on the “next plane home” if he cannot provide “acceptable proof” that his exemption is legitimate.
Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford highlights that the local government of Victoria, where the Australian Open is held, will not support Djokovic’s visa application.
The world No 1 arrives at Melbourne Airport around 11:30pm on Wednesday, January 5.
Around 3:15am local time in Australia, Djokovic’s father reports that his son is being held in isolation in Melbourne Airport.
At 5:00am local time, Goran Ivanisevic releases an image on social media of himself and Djokovic’s physiotherapist seemingly waiting for the world No 1. The post is captioned, ‘Not the most usual trip Down Under’.
Around 8:15am local time, Djokovic’s visa confirmed to have been denied.
Shortly after the announcement, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison re-iterated that nobody was above the country’s border rules.
“Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to borders. No-one is above these rules,” he said in a tweet.
“Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.”
On Wednesday, Morrison had said Djokovic would be “on the next plane home” if his evidence for a Covid-19 vaccination exemption to play at the Australian Open was not satisfactory.
Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times, including the last three years. He is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 career Grand Slam titles.
Greg Hunt, Australia’s Minister for Health, made it clear that if Djokovic does wish to try and stay in the country, he would need to follow the appropriate processes.
“It’s a matter for him as to whether he wishes to appeal that,” Hunt said in a statement. “But, if a visa is cancelled then somebody will have to leave the country.”
While Djokovic was awaiting a decision regarding his visa, Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic made his stance clear and criticised the manner in which the world No 1 had been treated.
“I just finished a phone conversation with Novak Djokovic,” Vucic wrote on Instagram.
“I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him, and that our authorities are taking all measures to stop the harassment of the best tennis player in the world in the shortest possible period.
“In accordance with all norms of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth.”
Djokovic first revealed his intention to fly to Australia for the first Grand Slam of the year on Tuesday. He posted an image on social media from an airport saying that he was travelling with an “exemption permission”.
The world No 1 has never shared whether he is vaccinated against Covid-19, but has criticised mandates ruling that players must be double-jabbed.
Djokovic also has not made public on what grounds his medical exemption had been. Tournament director Craig Tiley had said it would be “helpful” for the 34-year-old to clarify his situation on what exempts him from vaccination.
“We would love…Novak to talk about it and help us with it, but ultimately it’s going to be up to him,” Tiley told reporters. “We aren’t in a position, even legally, to disclose other people’s medical information.”
Source: Sky Sports