Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison released a statement on Twitter announcing that top-ranked tennis pro will no longer be granted entry into the country just days after receiving a medical exemption that would have allowed him to participate in the Grand Slam tournament.
“Mr Djokovic’s visa has been canceled,” the statement read. “Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. 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.”
The Australian Border Forces also released a statement stating that Djokovic did not provide the “appropriate evidence” to meet the government’s entry requirements, resulting in his visa being canceled.
“Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa canceled will be detained and removed from Australia,” the statement read, via The Age.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns the ball to Alexander Zverev of Germany during their ATP World Tour Finals, singles semifinal, tennis match, at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
According to the New York Times, Djokovic was held for 12-hours and fielded questions from government officials about the evidence supporting his medical exemption and the “validity” of his visa. Australian media reported earlier that Djokovic’s team had applied for the wrong type of visa for a person with a medical exemption.
Sources close to the tournament told Reuters that Djokovic would be deported but that he was filing an injunction to prevent it. A source also told the outlet that three other players that already arrived used the same type of visa.
Djokovic arrived at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport just before midnight local time on Wednesday. His father, Srdjan Djokovic, told a local Serbian outlet that the tennis pro was being held in a guarded room.
“Novak is currently in a room which no one can enter,” he said, via The Associated Press. “In front of the room are two policemen.”
Victoria state’s acting minister for sports said on Twitter Wednesday that they would not “support” Djokovic’s visa after being asked by the federal government.
Feb. 21, 2021, file photo Serbia’s Novak Djokovic holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after defeating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the men’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia. ((AP Photo/Hamish Blair, File))
“We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam,” she wrote. “We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors.”
Tournament officials have defended the process, saying Djokovic received no special treatment in being granted the exemption.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.