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- Serbian tennis player
Australia has rejected the visa of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic over its allegedly inadmissible medical vaccine exemption. A nine-time champion of the Australian Open, who abstained from receiving the shot, Djokovic is expected to be disqualified from competing to defend his 2021 title by the country’s authorities for improper entry paperwork.
The player “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements for Australia and visa has been subsequently canceled,” Australia Health Minister Greg Hunt said in an on-camera interview with local press on Thursday.
After traveling to Melbourne to participate in the tournament, Djokovic is reportedly being held at the airport for presenting a visa that does not allow medical exemptions for being unvaccinated, according to Australian news outlets.
The Australian Border Force raised the issue of the athlete’s visa with the state Victoria government and suspended his admission into the country, according to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
“The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements,” a statement from the agency read. “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.”
Djokovic’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, told a Serbian radio station before the news went public that Australian personnel had detained his son because of a miscommunication over the tennis star’s visa documents.
“I have no idea what’s going on. They’re holding my son captive for five hours,” Srdjan Djokovic said in a statement to Russian news agency Sputnik, according to B92. “This is a fight for the libertarian world, this is not just a fight for Novak, but a fight for the whole world! If they don’t let him go in half an hour, we will gather on the street. This is a fight for everyone.”
Since the pandemic began, Australia has been notorious for its strict Covid-19 restrictions and requirements for both residents and foreign visitors. The country kept its lockdowns in place long after most western countries lifted them and has maintained stringent social distancing rules and contact tracing protocols. Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, shut down its economy for a cumulative 262 days to curb the spread of the virus, ending in mid-October.