World Australia cancels Novak Djokovic's visa over COVID vaccine policy
Djokovic detention draws focus to Australia's asylum-seekers
SYDNEY (AP) — Novak Djokovic spent a fourth day on Sunday among the unwilling occupants of Melbourne's Park Hotel. The tennis superstar is awaiting court proceedings on Monday that will determine whether he can defend his Australian Open title or whether he will be deported — and the world has shown keen interest in his temporary accommodation. His fellow residents in the immigration detention hotel include refugees and asylum-seekers who are challenging their own proceedings that have all lasted much longer than Djokovic's. So long in some cases they feel forgotten.
Novak Djokovic's Australian visa was canceled Wednesday after he "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia," the country's border force announced. The tennis star had been stuck in an Australian airport as officials tried to work through issues related to his COVID-19 vaccine exemption for the upcoming Australian Open,.
"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 border force said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also spoke about the decision, tweeting that "Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders."
Tennis Star Novak Djokovic Held in Guarded Room in Australia After Reported Visa Mix-Up
Djokovic announced Tuesday that he had received a medical exemption to COVID vaccine requirements that would allow him to play in the upcoming Australian Open. © Juan Naharro/Getty Images for Lexus Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand against Marin Cilic of Croatia during the Davis Cup Semi Final match between Croatia and Serbia at Madrid Arena pavilion Monday in Madrid, Spain. Djokovic is reportedly being held in a room without being allowed to leave while an issue with his visa and a COVID vaccine medical exemption is figured out.
"No one is above these rules," he. "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 Tuesday, Djokovic that he had been granted a medical exemption for the Open — a decision that quickly sparked backlash in Australia. Djokovic has not publicly disclosed whether he has been vaccinated.
Tournament officials said in a statement that he was granted the medical exemption after a "rigorous review process" that included two separate independent panels of experts, which are made up of doctors from immunology, infectious disease and general practice.
But when Djokovic arrived in Australia on Wednesday, officials realized that his team had applied for a type of visa that does not permit vaccine exemptions, Reuters reported. The acting sports minister in the state of Victoria — which holds the Open — said the state would not support Djokovic's visa application and deferred to the federal government on whether to allow the tennis star in the country.
Australia PM Says 'No One is Above' Rules Amid Novak Djokovic's Detainment Over COVID Jab
The tennis star's detainment comes as Melbourne, where the Australian Open is held, is experiencing a massive surge in COVID cases.Djokovic, who has denied confirming whether or not he has received the COVID-19 vaccine, was detained by immigration authorities on Thursday. The Serbian tennis player was originally allowed to attend the Australian Open through an exemption given by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia. However, that exemption and his visa were canceled upon his arrival to the country on Wednesday.
Djokovic's ability to enter the country is now in the hands of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, according to Reuters. Earlier Wednesday, Morrison had said that Djokovic needed to provide "acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons" before entering the country.
"If that evidence is insufficient, then he won't be treated any different to anyone else and he'll be on the next plane home," Morrison said at the time.
While some fellow tennis players welcomed Djokovic's return to the Australian Open, women's top ranked tennis player and Australian Ashleigh Barty said she understands why people are "frustrated" with the decision to allow him play.
Djokovic's detention becomes political issue in Australia
SYDNEY (AP) — On a tennis court, Novak Djokovic’s timing is perfect. But when he arrived in Australia to play the first Grand Slam of the year holding documents allowing him to enter the country without a COVID-19 vaccine, his timing hardly could have been worse. When Djokovic landed in Melbourne on Wednesday he found himself in a city beset by surging virus cases. Border officials rejected Djokovic’s documentation, cancelled his visa and ordered him out of the country in a move that many Australians cheered. The tennis star's outspoken opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine struck a wrong note in a city where 92% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
Australian Open director Craig Tiley said players, fans and staff at the tournament must be fully vaccinated unless there's a reason why an exemption should be granted.
The backlash against Djokovic's exemption comes as the country's residents have dealt with strict COVID-related measures. In Melbourne, people have spent more than 260 days under lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the
Djokovic has nine Australian Open titles, and he won the last three. He is currently in a three-way tie with tennis greats Roger Federer and for the most Grand Slam singles titles.
Hot mic: TV anchors’ off-air critique of Djokovic goes viral .
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Opinions about Novak Djokovic’s visa status ahead of the Australian Open are strong — on and off the record, apparently. Video of a conversation between a pair of TV anchors on Seven Network in Australia blasting Djokovic — and apparently unaware they were being recorded — went viral after it was posted online Wednesday. Mike Amor and Rebecca Maddern are seen questioning apparent mistakes that appeared on Djokovic’s visa application and making personal attacks on the 20-time Grand Slam champion. They also are heard saying the government and border authorities made a mess of the process.