Novak Djokovic's entry to Australia delayed over visa mishap, being held in guarded room

Novak Djokovic's entry to Australia delayed over visa mishap, being held in guarded room

January 5, 2022

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Novak Djokovic could miss the Australian Open this month after a visa mishap involving his vaccine medical exemption has prevented him from entering the country, according to reports. 

Djokovic arrived at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport just before midnight local time on Wednesday after announcing just a day earlier that he had been granted a medical exemption that would allow him to compete at the Grand Slam tournament. 

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, reacts while playing Kei Nishikori, of Japan, during the quarterfinals of the tennis competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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 Jaala Pulford said on Twitter that they would not “support” Djokovic’s visa after being asked by the federal government. 

“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.”

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after defeating Russia’s Andrey Rublev during their ATP World Tour Finals singles tennis match, at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. 
(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

It was not immediately clear if he would be granted entry by the federal government. 

News of Djokovic’s exemption sparked controversy after months of back-and-forth on whether or not he would be able to participate in the Australian Open. He has publicly stated that he does not wish to reveal his vaccination status. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier Wednesday that he would need to provide evidence supporting his claim in order to stay in the country. 

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, on Feb. 21, 2021.
(AP Photo/Hamish Blair, File)

“We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that,” he said during a news conference. “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. There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever.”

Tournament officials have defended the process, saying Djokovic received no special treatment in being granted the exemption. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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