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Djokovic set to miss Australian Open as border officials refuse him entry over visa

The world No 1 was turned back after he “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia”.

Novak Djokovic, ATP Cup 2021 Tennis – ATP Cup – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 2, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic before the match between Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic and Canada’s Milos Raonic

Novak Djokovic is set to miss the Australian Open after his visa was sensationally denied by Australian border officials on Thursday morning, Melbourne time.

The world No 1 had announced on Tuesday that he had been granted a medical exemption against the Covid-19 vaccine mandate but on arrival in Melbourne, it was discovered that he his application was not in order and that he had “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia”.

Djokovic’s announcement that he had been granted a medical exemption had been roundly criticised, especially in Melbourne, the city that endured the longest lockdown to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Border officials confirmed in a statement that Djokovic would be deported.

“The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements,” it said. “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.​”

Reuters said on social media that Djokovic is appealing the decision.

Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said “no one is above the rules”.

Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic said he had spoken to Djokovic and offered his country’s support.

“I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end immediately,” Vucic said in a statement on Wednesday, as cited by Reuters.

Srdjan Djokovic, the outspoken father of the world No 1, said in a statement to Russian news agency Sputnik, according to B92. “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.”

Djokovic had consistently refused to reveal his vaccination status in recent months, saying he believed it was a personal choice. Fans wanting to attend this year’s Australian Open must be vaccinated, with no exceptions.

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