25 Jan 2022

EXPLAINER: Why has Novak Djokovic been denied entry into Australia and what happens next?

EXPLAINED: Why has Novak Djokovic been denied entry into Australia and what happens next?

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic is set to find out on Monday if he will avoid being deported from the country.

Novak Djokovic has been granted permission by the Federal Court of Australia to remain in Melbourne until Monday after his appeal against his deportation was adjourned.

The Australian Border Force had earlier confirmed the world number one’s visa application had been cancelled and he would be deported.

Here, we look at how Djokovic’s bid for a record-extending 10th Australian Open men’s singles title has descended into a diplomatic storm.

Why has Djokovic been refused entry into Australia?

The world number one has not publicly confirmed whether he has been vaccinated or not, but last year said he was opposed. All foreign visitors to Australia must be double-vaccinated or quarantine for a 14-day period. After arriving in Melbourne, Djokovic was held for several hours before the Australian Border Force announced he had not met entry rules.

Why did Djokovic travel to Australia then?
Djokovic announced on Tuesday that he had received a medical exemption from Covid-19 vaccination rules to defend his men’s singles title. Tournament organisers, Tennis Australia, confirmed he had a legitimate vaccine exemption in order to compete and this was endorsed by the Victoria state government.

How did the Australian public react to Djokovic’s announcement?

News that Djokovic would be allowed to compete was met with widespread anger throughout the country. Australia has spent months in lockdown under some of the toughest restrictions in the world and over 90 per cent of adults have been double-dosed.

What happened between then and him arriving in Melbourne?
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison initially appeared to accept the exemption, but completed a U-turn on Wednesday, saying that if Djokovic failed to provide sufficient evidence in support of his medical exemption application he would not be allowed entry.

Did he have any evidence?

Djokovic was held for several hours at Melbourne Airport before his visa was cancelled. Morrison announced the Serbian had failed to prove he was double vaccinated or had a legitimate exemption.

What was the reaction in Djokovic’s homeland?
Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic has given Djokovic his full support and on Instagram urged the Australian authorities “to stop the harassment of the best tennis player in the world”.

What happens now?

Novak Djokovic after winning the Australian Open in 2021
Novak Djokovic after winning the Australian Open in 2021 (Hamish Blair/AP)

Djokovic has not given up on his bid for a record-extending 10th Australian Open men’s singles title. He immediately appealed against the decision in the Federal Court of Australia.

When will a decision be made?

Court officials announced the case had been adjourned and Djokovic would be allowed to remain in Melbourne pending the outcome of his hearing at 10am on Monday. Until then, he will stay at a quarantine hotel in the Carlton suburb of Melbourne.

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