Novak Djokovic Could Be Detained in Australia Until Monday over Visa Application

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 6, 2022

FILE - 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, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Djokovic has had his visa canceled and been denied entry to Australia, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022 and is set to be removed from the country after spending the night at the Melbourne airport as officials refused to let him enter the country for the Australian Open after an apparent visa mix-up.(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File)
AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File

Tennis star Novak Djokovic reportedly may be held in an immigration detention hotel in Australia until Monday because of visa issues related to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

According to ESPN, Djokovic's visa was canceled and he was detained after Australian Border Force officials rejected his rationale for a medical exemption from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Djokovic had received a medical exemption from Australian Open organizers to play in the tournament this month after a review by two panels of independent doctors, but it is unclear if he will be permitted to participate.

While Djokovic has not disclosed his vaccination status, it initially looked as though the stringent COVID-19 vaccination policies in Australia would keep him out of the Aussie Open.

Nole announced Tuesday, however, that he had gained a medical exemption and would be competing in the tournament:

Novak Djokovic @DjokerNole

Happy New Year! Wishing you all health, love &amp; joy in every moment &amp; may you feel love &amp; respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.<br><br>I’ve spent fantastic quality time with loved ones over break &amp; today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022! <a href="https://t.co/e688iSO2d4">pic.twitter.com/e688iSO2d4</a>

Organizers confirmed Djokovic's announcement in a statement:

"Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.

"One of those was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health. They assessed all applications to see if they met the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation guidelines."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the situation in a press conference, noting that Djokovic would have to provide evidence of why he should have a medical exemption, per Reuters:

"We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that. 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."

According to ESPN, Djokovic's lawyers appealed the decision to cancel his visa, but the hearing was adjourned until Monday.

Djokovic's father, Srdjan, who has previously compared the Australian Open vaccination requirement to "blackmail," told reporters in Belgrade, Serbia, on Thursday: "They're keeping him in captivity. They're stomping all over Novak to stomp all over Serbia and Serbian people."

The 2022 Australian Open is set to run from Jan. 17 through Jan. 30. If Djokovic is cleared to participate, he will look to win his fourth consecutive Aussie Open.