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Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic won’t be able to defend his 2021 title after his visa to enter Australia was canceled.
The decision to deport tennis star Novak Djokovic has sparked diplomatic fallout, with the prime minister, Scott Morrison, dismissing pleas from the Serbian government for Australia to reconsider the move.
Speaking after the Australian Border Force decision on Thursday, Morrison revealed that diplomats from the Serbian embassy in Canberra had made formal representations to Australia about the decision to deport Djokovic for failing to meet vaccine exemption requirements.
Additionally, Mr Morrison revealed there had never been an exemption in place and Djokovic’s evidence for a medical exemption was “insufficient”.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt stated in an interview with local media on Thursday morning that Djokovic “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements for Australia and visa has been subsequently canceled.”
Before the announcement, Djokovic’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, told a Serbian radio station his son was being held “captive” by Australian officials following a visa application mix-up. He told Serbian radio station B92 his son was being housed in a room that no one can enter, with two policemen in the front of the room.
According to B92, Srdjan told said in a statement to Russian news agency Sputnik:
“I have no idea what’s going on. They’re holding my son captive for five hours.”
“This is a fight for the libertarian world, this is not just a fight for Novak, but a fight for the whole world! If they don’t let him go in half an hour, we will gather on the street. This is a fight for everyone.”Since the comments were made, there have been no reports of any gatherings in Belgrade or outside the Melbourne Airport.
According to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Border Force (ABF) contacted the state Victoria government after learning of an issue with the visa submitted by Djokovic’s team while he was en route to the country.
The ABF confirmed in a statement that the 34-year-old player’s visa had been revoked for failing to provide appropriate evidence for entry to the country.
“The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements,” the statement read.
“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,” it added.
Djokovic has been denied entry into Australia after gaining a special exemption to play at the Australian Open.
He is being held at Melbourne airport.
Acting Victoria Sports Minister Jaala Pulford confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday that the government would not support Djokovic’s visa application.