Australia revokes top tennis player’s Djokovic visa

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Tennis star Novak Djokovic has had his visa to enter Australia dramatically revoked on his arrival in Melbourne.

World number one was held in the city’s airport for several hours before border officials announced he had not met entry rules and would be deported.

Djokovic was then taken to a government detention hotel. His lawyers have launched an urgent appeal in court.

It follows a massive backlash over a vaccine exemption Djokovic said he got to play in the Australian Open.

The Serbian player has not spoken about his vaccination status, but last year he said he was “opposed to vaccination”.

Tennis Australia said his medical exemption had been granted by two independent medical panels, but border officials said he had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” for entry after arriving on Wednesday from Dubai.

“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,” the Australian Border Force (ABF) said in a statement.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied Djokovic was being singled out and said no one was above the country’s rules. But he added that Djokovic’s stance on vaccination had drawn attention.

“When you get people making public statements – of what they say they have, and what they are going to do, and what their claims are – well they draw significant attention to themselves,” Mr Morrison told reporters.

Mr Morrison said the ABF had previously advised Tennis Australia on visa expectations. Though Djokovic’s reason for an exemption has not been disclosed, Mr Morrison said contracting Covid in the past six months was not among accepted federal criteria.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has reported that two other people were now having their medical exemptions reviewed.

The Federal Circuit Court has adjourned Djokovic’s legal challenge until 18:00 local time (07:00 GMT), after two brief administrative hearings.

Djokovic is now being held at a hotel in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton which is used for immigration detention. The facility has been the site of Covid-19 outbreaks and a recent fire.

 

AGENCIES

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