Australia bars Novak Djokovic, cancels entry visa
Published: 10:20 AM, 6 January 2022
Australia said on Thursday it had cancelled the entry visa of Novak Djokovic, opening the way to his detention and deportation in a dramatic reversal for the tennis world number one.
The Serb had landed in Melbourne the previous evening, after celebrating on social media that he had a medical exemption to play in the tournament without proof he was fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The vaccine exemption, granted by the Australian Open organisers after his application had been cleared by two medical panels, sparked fury among Australians who have endured Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions for two years.
But the nine-time Australian Open champion never got past border control.
"Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled," the Australian Border Force said in a statement.
"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," it added.
The player was held at the airport overnight, but was moved, along with his team, early on Thursday.
It is unclear if he will depart Australia later in the day or stay in hotel quarantine or government accommodation during a possible legal fight against deportation.
Several local media including The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald said Djokovic's lawyers would attempt to overturn the decision.
Serbia's president blasted Australia for the "maltreatment" of its star. - AFP