clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Novak Djokovic’s visa canceled, defending Australian Open champion told to leave country

The World No. 1 and defending Australian Open champion might not be able to defend his title.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Marin Cilic of Croatia during the 2021 Davis Cup Finals semifinal between Croatia and Serbia in Madrid, Spain, Dec. 3, 2021. Photo by Meng Dingbo/Xinhua via Getty Images

Update 5:11 p.m. The Prime Minister of Australia has weighed in on the topic, and it appears Djokovic won’t be participating in the 2022 Australian Open.

Update 4:25 p.m. Djokovic has been told to leave the country, according to Paul Sakkal of The Age. His visa has been canceled and he has not shown evidence for his medical exemption.

World No. 1 and defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is currently being held at an airport in Melbourne ahead of his arrival in the country to defend his major championship.

While the federal government has approved an “exemption permission” for Djokovic, the state government of Victoria, where the city of Melbourne is located, has not.

The state has required all participants, staff, volunteers, and fans to be fully vaccinated to attend the event unless a “genuine reason” why an exemption should be granted. Djokovic appears to have gotten COVID-19 previously, and is using that as the basis of his exemption.

That led to the reigning champion being “quizzed by Australian Border Force officials in a room at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport until at least 1:15 a.m.”

A federal government source familiar with the episode said there were question marks about whether Djokovic had adequate documentation to prove the reason for his exemption. This evidence is required to be presented at the border by unvaccinated people.

The source said it was not clear whether a COVID-19 infection in the past six months - which is suspected to be the justification for the player’s exemption – was sufficient to secure entry into Australia under federal guidelines.

It’s also an issue that Djokovic might be attempting to enter the country on a visa where a vaccine-related medical exemption wouldn’t matter.

The Victorian government’s Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford indicated her state is less than keen on admitting Djokovic, who has expressed vaccine skepticism previously.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times, and if he’s able to win one more major he becomes the greatest grand slam winner of all time with 21 victories.

The Australian Open is scheduled to begin on January 17th.