‘Rules Are Rules’: Australia Cancels Novak Djokovic’s Visa After Denying Entry

‘Rules Are Rules’: Australia Cancels Novak Djokovic’s Visa After Denying Entry
The Australian government has cancelled the visa of tennis star Novak Djokovic, who was held at Melbourne airport for over five hours upon arrival on Wednesday night, just days before the Australian Open.

The decision comes after Djokovic claimed to have an exemption to compete in the event despite COVID-19 vaccination border entry requirements.

Djokovic arrived at Melbourne Airport at 11.20 p.m. on Wednesday night and was detained by Australian Border Force (ABF) over concerns about his visa.

“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,” ABF said in a statement on Thursday.

“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.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the decision came after Djokovic’s exemption, provided by the Victorian state government, was reviewed by federal authorities.

A Serbian tennis fan waves a flag as he awaits the arrival of Serbia’s tennis champion Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 6, 2022. (William West/AFP via Getty Images)

“It is a matter for him whether he wishes to appeal, but if a visa is cancelled, somebody will have to leave the country,” Hunt told the Seven Network.

However, overnight Victoria’s Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said the state would not sponsor the tennis star’s visa.

“The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia,” she wrote on Twitter.

“We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.”

Pulford said visa approvals were a matter for the federal government, while medical exemptions were a matter for doctors.

Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said no one was above Australia’s border entry rules.

“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,” he wrote on Twitter.

Since Dec. 15, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can arrive in Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption and can travel to eligible states and territories without having to quarantine.

But if a person is not vaccinated, they must provide proof they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or be turned away.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Wednesday warned that no tennis players competing at the Australian Open would be afforded special treatment.

Meanwhile, before the visa cancellation, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucichas described Djokovic’s treatment as “harassment” and called for it to end.

“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,” the statement said.

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