After receiving a vaccine exemption on Tuesday on medical grounds allowing the world’s number one tennis great to play in the Australian Open tennis championships, the Australian government has done a backflip and banned Novak Djokovic from entering the country.
The move comes amid an uproar from Australians who were incensed. Djokovic was granted an exemption, even though the circumstances for the approval have not been disclosed.
Djokovic’s visa was termed not acceptable due to an error, and the star was detained at Melbourne airport after he arrived, reports SBS.
The Australian Border Force confirmed that Djokovic “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia,” and his visa had been canceled.
“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 said in a statement.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighed in on the decision, tweeting, “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,” he wrote.
Before his visa was canceled, Djokovic’s father Srdjan told the Serbian B92 internet portal: “Novak is currently in a room which no one can enter. In front of the room are two policemen.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic offered his support for the tennis great and said in a statement;
“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.”
One of tennis’ veteran greats Rod Laver, wants Djokovic to reveal his reason for the vaccine exemption,
“I think it might get ugly. I’d think the Victorian people would be thinking, ‘Yes, I’d love to see him play and compete, but at the same time, there’s a right way and a wrong way.’
“If he’s got a reason for (the exemption) then … we should know it,” he said.