Just over 36 hours ago, Novak Djokovic received clearance to enter Australia and play in Melbourne. Earlier today, that clearance was taken away.
The World No. 1 made the 15-hour flight from Dubai landing Wednesday night in Melbourne with his team. The Australian Border Force, however, would not let him go any further and after hours of interrogation have told Djokovic that they have cancelled his visa and he has to fly back home.
For now, Djokovic will reportedly move to a quarantine hotel to prepare for a flight back in the next 12-24 hours. But in the meantime, he’ll use his lawyers at home to file an appeal. His father, back in Serbia, is understandably enraged.
Novak’s dad Srdjan to Serbian outlets: “Tonight they can throw him in a dungeon, tomorrow they can put him in chains. The truth is he is like water and water paves its own path. Novak is the Spartacus of the new world which won’t tolerate injustice, colonialism and hypocrisy.”🤣 https://t.co/Q1K6mhhiJP
— Una Hajdari (@UnaHajdari) January 5, 2022
Is there hope? Maybe. But even the Australian Prime Minister is having none of Novak in Australia.
“Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. 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,” the PM posted on twitter.
The Australian Border Force, which held Djokovic at the airport, also put out a statement:
“The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements.
“The ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled.
“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 ABF can confirm Mr Djokovic had access to his phone.”
We’ve heard about the issue with the incorrect visa, but more than likely that can be fixed and shouldn’t be permanent dealbreaker. Mistakes on forms can be fixed! So there seems to be more to it.
What I want to know is how Djokovic first got a medical exemption, which was confirmed by the tournament and the Victorian Government, but then later denied.
Rules are rules, that is true. But the exemption was granted and other players — as many as five — used the same exemption to get into the country, so why was Djokovic’s exemption granted in the first place and then on what grounds was it denied compared to other players.
Somebody is at fault, and it could be all parties. Djokovic for not filling out the visa correctly, the medical panel for failing to granting an exemption in the first place and the tournament for publicly confirming he was allowed to play.
That said, with the Prime Minister involved, it does unfortunately smack of a political decision. But this saga is ongoing and nearing lunchtime in Melbourne there will be more to come.
What a crazy way to start the year…
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