Djokovic remains in immigration detention in Melbourne after being denied entry into the state as he was reportedly attempting to enter the country on a visa that doesn’t permit vaccine exemption for being unvaccinated.
Novak Djokovic is not being held captive in Australia, a top official says, as the Serbian tennis star faces deportation over COVID-19 vaccination rules. The men’s world number one tennis player ended weeks of speculation about his participation in the 2022 Australian Open on Tuesday and landed in Melbourne the next day. However, he remains in immigration detention in Melbourne after being denied entry into the state. He was reportedly attempting to enter the country on a visa that doesn’t permit vaccine exemption for being unvaccinated.
— Karen Andrews MP (@karenandrewsmp) January 5, 2022
“He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said.
A court challenge is due on Monday a week before the tournament begins. Now the uncertainty regarding Djokovic’s participation in the tournament he has won nine times deepens. A 10th title in Melbourne would see him become the most successful men’s singles player, with 21 Grand Slams.
Meanwhile, ABC news has reported that Czech player Renata Voracova also had her Australian visa canceled in the immigration on Friday and is being detained in the same hotel.
Djokovic has never revealed his vaccination status and he has been a vocal critic of mandatory ruling that players should be double-jabbed in order to participate in the tournament. On Tuesday, he revealed that he had an “exemption permission” to travel and play at the Australian Open without a COVID-19 vaccination.
Djokovic’s exemption was given by two independent medical panels organised by Tennis Australia, the body that runs the event, and Victoria state. But on Wednesday, Australian Border Force (ABF) officials said the 34-year-old player had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” at Melbourne Airport.
Criteria listed by the Australian Technical Advisory Group as permissible reasons for a medical exemption range from acute major medical conditions to any serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
The federal government has criticised Tennis Australia for ignoring ABF advice about the requirements for entry. On Friday, Victoria said Tennis Australia had also failed to pass on this advice.