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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday January 5, 2021

 
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic has had his visa denied and will likely not play the Australian Open.

Photo Source: AP
 

Novak Djokovic’s fate at this year’s Australian Open has likely been sealed, as the nine-time champion has seen his visa denied and will not be granted entry into Australia at this time.

Djokovic received an exemption, which was approved by two independent and anonymous panels, and was apparently headed to Melbourne to defend his title, but he met a snafu at customs in Melbourne and it was deemed that he could not provide "appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements into Australia."

Serbian journalist Sasa Ozmo, as well as the Age's Paul Sakkal, confirm the story.



Here are some more details of how the events transpired:

1.
Djokovic was holed up at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport - he landed at 1130 PM Melbourne time on Wednesday but was told he could not leave. He was then put in a room and had his phone taken away.

2. Three hours later Djokovic was given his phone back.

3. Djokovic’s issues were first reported as visa related, but now we're not so sure - reportedly Djokovic has filled out the wrong type of visa, one used by those who are vaccinated. There are also questions about the evidence supporting his exemption. It was eventually deemed that Djokovic failed to provide "appropriate standards of proof" to enter the country.

In the end, what is unclear is whether Djokovic was denied access due to improper visa paperwork, or whether it was deemed that something was erroneous with regard to the exemption he had been granted. To be granted the exemption, Djokovic had to be subjected to the Australian Technical Advisory group on immunisation and then a second panel made up of medical experts.

Australian health minister Greg Hunt made some telling remarks in a television interview, when he hinted that the real issue was between the independent, Victorian-run exemption panel and the Federal government.

"There was an exemption that had been provided through the Victorian government process, clearly that did not pass the standards of proof that were required by the Australian border force," Hunt said.


4. Australia’s Prime Minister invokes Australian government authority - “Any individual seeking to enter Australia must comply with border requirements,” Scott Morrison said. “We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that. If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home.”

5. Border officials reportedly appealed to officials in the state of Victoria, but that request was rejected as visa approvals are deemed to be a federal matter.

6. 26 players applied for medical exemption and a “handful” were granted - reportedly the number is six, but we’re not exactly sure how many, or which players were granted the exemptions to play in Melbourne. What we have heard, is that having a positive Covid test from the last six months is one way that unvaccinated players can be granted the exemption, but even this item could be a matter of disagreement between Victoria and the federal government.

7. The Serbian President, Aleksandar Vukic, is involved - he has spoken with Djokovic and hopes to help put an end to what he calls “harassment.”

8. A decision was expected around the time of 10 AM local time, which is about noon EST. It came at around 8:15 local time.

9. It was reported by Paul Sakkal of The Age on Twitter that Djokovic’s visa has been “cancelled” and that he has been told to leave the country. According to Sakkal, Djokovic “Has not demonstrated to border force significant evidence for his exemption.”

10. Djokovic’s lawyers will begin the process of appealing the decision. Reportedly he is being moved to a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, while flights out of the country are arranged.

11. Scott Morrison, Aussie premier, on the decision - "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."

 

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