Tennis news | Novak Djokovic visa canceled as Serbian star faces deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic’s visa has been canceled by the Australian Border Force as the top-ranked star faces the real prospect of being forced to leave Australia.
The Serbian star has been detained this morning at Melbourne airport for more than seven hours.
Djokovic’s lawyers are challenging the ruling, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
It is understood that Djokovic has been separated from his coach Goran Ivanisevic and his support team has been treated.
They opted to stay at the airport, with some reports claiming the world number 1 would be moved to a hotel.
SMH and The Age report that a federal government source familiar with the episode said there had been doubts whether Djokovic had the proper documentation to justify his exemption. Unvaccinated people must show papers at the border before they are given the green light.
Commonwealth reviews Djokovic’s exemption
The point of contention is whether a COVID-19 infection in the past six months was reason enough to secure entry into Australia under federal guidelines. It is understood that this underlies Djokovic’s exemption.
The move was described as a publicity stunt by a source at Tennis Australia, with the move only targeting Djokovic and not the other players who had already entered the country with the same exemption.
Djokovic gets Australian Open exemption
“I don’t know how the feds are doing [address the fact that] several tennis players are already in the country with the same exemption granted to Novak, “the source told The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It gives us the impression that the Feds are reacting to the media by letting in some players but not the world number 1.”
The controversial decision drew a strong reaction from Serbian President Aleksander Vucic, who said he spoke to the star this morning and said “all of Serbia” supported Djokovic.
“Our authorities are taking all measures to end the harassment of the best tennis player in the world as soon as possible,” Vucic wrote on his Instagram account.
“In accordance with the standards of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth. Otherwise, Novak is strong, as we all know him.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighed in on the issue, saying the entry denial was the result of “strong border policies”.
“Mr Djokovic’s visa has been canceled. The rules are the rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules,” Morrison said.
“Our strict border policies have been essential for Australia to have one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we continue to be vigilant.”
Speaking to Sputnik Serbia, the tennis star‘s father threatened to stage a street rally if his son was not immediately allowed into Australia.
“Novak is currently in a room that no one can enter,” said Srdan Djokovic. “In front of the room, there are two policemen.
“I have no idea what’s going on, they are holding my son captive for five hours.”
If the appeal fails, Djokovic could be kicked out of the country today.
Unless a court overturns the ruling, Djokovic will have no chance of winning his 21st Grand Slam title, which would set him apart from longtime rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic has won 20 Grand Slam tournaments, tied with Federer and Nadal.
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