TENNIS star Novak Djokovic has had his Australian visa dramatically revoked after arriving in Melbourne – and could be deported in DAYS.
The World No 1 has been forced to stay at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne after being held at the city’s airport for nine hours.
Serbian Djokovic, 34, sparked a major backlash after he was granted a vaccine exemption to play in the contest.
He has not openly spoken about his vaccination status, but last year did admit that he was “opposed” to vaccination.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced that he was travelling to Australia with an “exemption permission” on January 4.
But Australia’s Border Force confirmed Djokovic’s visa had been revoked after he landed to take part in the Australian Open at around 11.15pm local time yesterday.
Documents submitted to the court also suggest that his team have applied for a last minute injunction against his visa cancellation.
Djokovic’s injunction request against the visa cancellation was listed for hearing later today in the Federal Circuit and Family Court.
But a judge adjourned proceedings until 10am on Monday, meaning Djokovic faces an uncertain weekend in hotel quarantine.
The tennis star, who has won nine times at the Aussie Open, was taken to a room guarded by armed police at the airport.
Organisers of the tournament initially confirmed that his medical exemption had been granted by two independent medical panels organised by Tennis Australia and Victoria state.
But after arriving on Wednesday from Dubai, border officials stated that he had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” for his entry.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison denies claims that Djokovic was being singled out, and that no one was above the country’s rules.
He added: “When you get people making public statements – of what they say they have, and what they are going to do, and what their claims are – well they draw significant attention to themselves.
“There are no special cases, rules are rules. We will continue to make the right decisions when it comes to securing Australian borders in relation to this pandemic.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic then became embroiled in the row, contacting the star directly to offer his support.
He then summoned Australia’s ambassador to the country to discuss the issues the Serb was facing.
President Aleksandar Vucic added that the star was a victim of “harassment” and said that “the whole of Serbia” supported him.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has reported that two other people were now having their medical exemptions reviewed.
Djokovic’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, said “This is not just a fight for Novak, but a fight for the whole world.
Former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee told local media the visa U-turn was unprecedented, saying it “smells” of politics.
Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal hit out at bitter rival Djokovic over the dramatic series of events – urging everyone to “get vaccinated”.
Nadal, world no 6, is also preparing to play for the grand slam after testing positive for covid in December.
He said: “The world has been suffering enough. Get vaccinated. If he wanted, he would playing here in Australia without problems.
“I went through COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here. That’s the only clear thing.
“The rest of the things, I don’t want to have or to give to you an opinion that I don’t have the whole information.
“The only for me clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion has been suffering enough to not follow the rules.”
‘ABOVE AND BEYOND’
Health Minister Greg Hunt sent the CEO of Tennis Australia a letter clearly stating that people who had tested positive to Covid-19 within six months did not meet exemption requirements to enter the country.
In the series of letters, seen by SE, references questions asked by CEO Craig Tiley regarding unvaccinated people wanting to travel to the competition.
Mr Hunt wrote: “I can confirm that people who contracted Covid-19 within the past six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved or recognised vaccine are not considered fully vaccinated.”
The letter also states that it is up to the individual to ensure they meet the requirements for travel to Australia.
A further letter to Mr Tiley from the federal health department also states that past infection to Covid was not a “contraindication to vaccination”.
Previously Mr Tiley had announced that Djokovic was granted an exemption under the guidelines, and it was up to the tennis star to disclose the reasoning behind this.
He said that for tennis players it was a process that was “above and beyond” what anyone travelling to the country domestically would have faces.
Australia has an Immunisation Register, which travellers can be added to if they are ruled to be exempt from a vaccination.
Mr Hunt’s letter advised that the Australian Immunisation Register was applicable for domestic purposes only and did not apply in the context of international borders.
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.”
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