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Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has been sent to a quarantine hotel and is set to be deported back to Serbia within hours after Australian border officials cancelled his visa.

The world No.1 was detained at Melbourne Airport overnight in a guarded room and grilled by border officials until 5am after landing in Australia about 11pm on Wednesday.

After hours in the isolated room under police guard the star’s visa was cancelled and he is due to be flown out of the country later on Thursday. 

Djokovic was moved to a hotel in Carlton in Melbourne’s inner-city under police guard on Thursday morning as authorities arrange a deportation flight back to Serbia. 

His team is understood to have applied for a type of visa that does not allow medical exemptions for the unvaccinated.

There are also believed to be issues with the controversial exemption itself, with questions about whether he has adequate proof to support it.

He is believed to have been issued an exemption on the grounds that he was infected with coronavirus in the past six months.

However, though this may satisfy his entry into the tournament and Victoria, the federal government controls the international border and his exemption appears to not hold up under federal rules.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday morning said the federal government was not involved in the decision to approve Djokovic’s medical exemption.

The world No.1 and prominent Covid vaccine sceptic now faces a difficult legal fight to stay in the country and keep his Australian Open title fight alive. 

Djokovic’s lawyers are gearing up to fight the visa cancellation in court, though it is not clear if the star player will stay in Australia during the case. 

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Novak Djokovic was caught up in a late night visa bungle as he touched down in Melbourne about 11pm on Wednesday night

Novak Djokovic was caught up in a late night visa bungle as he touched down in Melbourne about 11pm on Wednesday night

Novak Djokovic was caught up in a late night visa bungle as he touched down in Melbourne about 11pm on Wednesday night

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Djokovic’s visa had been cancelled on Thursday morning.

‘Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled,’ Mr Morrison wrote on Twitter. 

‘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.’

Mr Hunt also confirmed the visa cancellation, and Border Force issued a statement to that effect. 

‘The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements,’ the force said.

‘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.

‘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.

‘The ABF can confirm Mr Djokovic had access to his phone.​’

The world number one touched down on an Emirates flight from Dubai about 11.30pm Wednesday AEST, just 24 hours after he confirmed he would play in the Australian Open.  

Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic (pictured with physiotherapist Ulises Badio) has taken to social media to give fans a small insight into the team's predicament

Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic (pictured with physiotherapist Ulises Badio) has taken to social media to give fans a small insight into the team's predicament

Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic (pictured with physiotherapist Ulises Badio) has taken to social media to give fans a small insight into the team’s predicament

WHAT HAPPENS TO DJOKOVIC NOW? 

The world No.1 will be moved to a hotel in Melbourne under police guard on Thursday while he waits to be deported back to Serbia. 

Djokovic’s lawyers are understood to be preparing a legal challenge against the Australian Border Force decision.

However it is unclear whether the 34-year-old will remain in the country for the case.

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Two weeks out from the Grand Slam, it remains uncertain if Djokovic will lose the chance to defend his Australian Open Crown entirely. 

A source familiar with the situation said the player’s lawyers are in the process of contesting the decision made by Australian Border Force officials. 

The Serbian star was not allowed through passport control, and endured several hours of discussions with Border Force officials.

His coach, former tennis star Goran Ivanisevic, and support staff have been processed through immigration, but stayed at the airport while Djokovic was questioned.

His father Srdjan confirmed to a Serbian radio station that the star was ‘isolated in a room’ at the airport with his support staff banned from entering and without access to a mobile phone, even claiming he was under ‘police guard’. 

‘Novak is currently in a room which no one can enter,’ he told the B92 internet portal. ‘In front of the room are two policemen.’

Mr Djokovic Snr warned protesters would gather on the Serbian streets if border officials didn’t make a decision in the next half hour. 

‘I have no idea what’s going on, they’re holding my son captive for five hours,’ he said. ‘This is not 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 everybody.’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Djokovic's visa had been cancelled on Thursday morning, saying 'rules are rules'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Djokovic's visa had been cancelled on Thursday morning, saying 'rules are rules'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Djokovic’s visa had been cancelled on Thursday morning, saying ‘rules are rules’

Novak's father Srdjan told a Serbian radio station that the star was 'isolated in a room' at the airport and warned protesters would gather on the streets if border officials didn't make a decision in the next half hour

Novak's father Srdjan told a Serbian radio station that the star was 'isolated in a room' at the airport and warned protesters would gather on the streets if border officials didn't make a decision in the next half hour

Novak’s father Srdjan told a Serbian radio station that the star was ‘isolated in a room’ at the airport and warned protesters would gather on the streets if border officials didn’t make a decision in the next half hour

Meanwhile, Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic has taken to social media to give fans an insight into the team’s predicament. 

The photo features himself and physiotherapist Ulises Badio kicking back on large armchairs with the caption: ‘Not the most usual trip Down Under’. 

And by early morning a flag-waving Serbian fan accompanied by another supporter holding an accordion had arrived at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport to send support to the superstar player as he awaits his fate. 

Djokovic’s declaration to the world that he was on his way to Australia sparked an outpouring of anger on a day the nation recorded a record 64,770 new Covid cases.

Border Force officials learned while Djokovic was in the air that he would be trying to enter the country on a visa that doesn’t permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated, sources said.

A Serbian fan rushed to Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport with flag in hand to send support to the superstar player as he awaited his fate in an isolated room (pictured)

A Serbian fan rushed to Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport with flag in hand to send support to the superstar player as he awaited his fate in an isolated room (pictured)

A Serbian fan rushed to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport with flag in hand to send support to the superstar player as he awaited his fate in an isolated room (pictured)

However the fan was eventually left disappointed when federal border officials denied Djokovic entry into Australia and sent him to a hotel to await deportation back to Serbia

However the fan was eventually left disappointed when federal border officials denied Djokovic entry into Australia and sent him to a hotel to await deportation back to Serbia

However the fan was eventually left disappointed when federal border officials denied Djokovic entry into Australia and sent him to a hotel to await deportation back to Serbia

Two of Djokovic's supporters are pictured outside Melbourne International Airport on Thursday alongside a Serbian flag

Two of Djokovic's supporters are pictured outside Melbourne International Airport on Thursday alongside a Serbian flag

Two of Djokovic’s supporters are pictured outside Melbourne International Airport on Thursday alongside a Serbian flag

As a result, the federal government contacted Victorian officials late on Wednesday night to ask it to formally help facilitate his entry into the country – but this was rejected. 

Acting sports minister Jaala Pulford confirmed the state government would not support the application.

‘The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia,’ Ms Pulford tweeted at 11.14pm.

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

‘We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions a matter for doctors.’  

The Victorian Government was asked to support his application because the state government works with Tennis Australia to run the Open, the event that his visa would allow him to work at. 

The federal government therefore wanted Victoria to formally back his entry, something the state government quickly claimed was not in their jurisdiction.

Djokovic arrived in Australia to defend his Australian Open crown but had to provide evidence to support his vaccination exemption - something that caused chaos overnight

Djokovic arrived in Australia to defend his Australian Open crown but had to provide evidence to support his vaccination exemption - something that caused chaos overnight

Djokovic arrived in Australia to defend his Australian Open crown but had to provide evidence to support his vaccination exemption – something that caused chaos overnight

It was revealed hours earlier the Acting Australian Border Force Commissioner was examining an ‘issue’ with Djokovic’s Australian Travel Declaration as the prime minister warned the tennis star will receive no special treatment.  

‘If that evidence is insufficient, then he will be treated no different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home,’ Mr Morrison said.

Later it emerged there were also issues with the exemption itself, and not just that he had arrived on the wrong visa. 

Tennis great Rod Laver, after whom centre court at the Australian Open is named, called on Djokovic to ‘own up’ to the reason for his exemption or face hostility from spectators. 

‘If he’s got a reason for (the exemption) then… we should know it,’ the 11-time grand slam winner told News Corp.

‘Yes, you’re a great player and you’ve performed and won so many tournaments, so, it can’t be physical. So what is the problem?’

Mr Morrison (pictured on Wednesday) insisted Djokovic will receive no special treatment upon arrival in Melbourne if he can't provide evidence to support his exemption

Mr Morrison (pictured on Wednesday) insisted Djokovic will receive no special treatment upon arrival in Melbourne if he can't provide evidence to support his exemption

Mr Morrison (pictured on Wednesday) insisted Djokovic will receive no special treatment upon arrival in Melbourne if he can’t provide evidence to support his exemption

If he doesn’t, Djokovic should expect hostility from fans every time he walks onto the court in a city which has spent than 260 days in lockdown since early 2020.

‘I think it might get ugly,’ Laver said. 

‘I would think the Victorian people would be thinking ”yes I would love to see him play and compete but at the same time, there’s a right way and a wrong way’.’

Everyone entering Australia – even its own citizens – must be fully-vaccinated against Covid or face two weeks in hotel quarantine.

‘My view is that any individual seeking to enter Australia must comply with our border requirements,’ Mr Morrison said on Wednesday afternoon.

‘Now Novak Djokovic, when he arrives in Australia, he has to if he’s not vaccinated, must provide acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons to be able to access the same travel arrangements as fully-vaccinated travellers. 

‘So we await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that. 

‘If that evidence is insufficient, then he will be treated no different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home. 

‘There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever.’ 

He added that any exemption given to Djokovic will still have to stack up upon arrival in Australia. 

‘There are other cases — there are quite a number over the last couple of years — where people have had these exemptions and have the suitable proof to support their claim in those circumstances,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘So the circumstance is not unique. The issue is whether he has sufficient evidence to support that he would qualify for the exemption.’

A short time earlier, Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews warned border officials could step in.

‘While the Victorian government and Tennis Australia may permit a non-vaccinated player to compete in the Australian Open, it is the Commonwealth government that will enforce our requirements at the Australian border,’ she said.

‘Since December 15, 2021, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption, and enter eligible states and territories quarantine free.

A late night visa bungle has left Novak Djokovic's entry into Melbourne in doubt (the tennis star is pictured with his wife)

A late night visa bungle has left Novak Djokovic's entry into Melbourne in doubt (the tennis star is pictured with his wife)

A late night visa bungle has left Novak Djokovic’s entry into Melbourne in doubt (the tennis star is pictured with his wife)

‘If an arriving individual is not vaccinated, they must provide acceptable proof that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons to be able to access the same travel arrangement as fully vaccinated travellers.

‘Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our strict border requirements.

‘No individual competing at the Australian Open will be afforded any special treatment.

‘Quarantine requirements for international arrivals in Victoria, including for non-vaccinated individuals, are a matter for the Victorian Government.’

The debate continued on The Project, where the panelists suggesting there was a lot more to the story.

Co-host Lisa Wilkinson didn’t mince her words as she slammed Djokovic.

‘The problem is, no-one cared, today. I think everyone knows someone who’s really ‘suffered through Covid, if not many, many, many people,’ Wilkinson said.

‘We know people who’ve lost loved ones, who weren’t there to say goodbye to them. 

‘And in the end, people are just sick of superstars being given special treatment. And that’s the category that this looked to fall into. 

‘And it probably didn’t help, Novak, that you were lacking a bit of grace in your announcement of the whole thing. It was all a bit, ‘Let’s go!’

They wondered whether Djokovic had a legitimate reason.

‘One of the reasons, as I understand it, that you can get an exemption under ATAGI rules is if you’ve had Covid within the last six months,’ co-host Hamish McDonald explained.

Peter Helliar added: ‘He did pull out of a tournament in Indianapolis not that long ago, I think.’  

Djokovic has previously contracted Covid in June 2020 shortly after he hosted a number of players in an exhibition tournament in south-east Europe.

A day earlier, Novak Djokovic announced to the world he was on his way to Australia after being granted an exemption (pictured, the photo he used to accompany his social media announcement)

A day earlier, Novak Djokovic announced to the world he was on his way to Australia after being granted an exemption (pictured, the photo he used to accompany his social media announcement)

A day earlier, Novak Djokovic announced to the world he was on his way to Australia after being granted an exemption (pictured, the photo he used to accompany his social media announcement)

Former Australian tennis star Sam Groth, who is recovering from Covid-19, described Djokovic’s ‘brazen’ exemption as a decision that ‘spits in the face of every Victorian and Australian’ in a strongly-worded column for News Corp.

‘Just look at the s**t storm he’s created. It’s disrespectful to everyone that has endured the hell of the last two years.

‘He was here last year lifting the trophy and paying tribute to what Victorians in particular had endured. He played in empty stadiums during the snap lockdown. His announcement on Tuesday was tone deaf. He should know better,’ he wrote.

Groth also accused Djokovic of hiding behind an exemption without explanation.

‘I still think Djokovic is one of the greatest ever but with greatness comes expectation and he fails every time. He is failing his peers and laughing in the face of Victorians,’ he wrote.

‘Maybe he will come and do a press conference and tell us what we want to know, but based on his track record, I’m not holding my breath.’ 

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open, champion has refused to reveal his vaccination status, declaring it a private matter – and has previously voiced his displeasure against ‘forced’ jabs.   

‘I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,’ he told fans in a live Facebook chat last April. 

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said the independent panel consisted of doctors from the fields of immunology, infectious disease and general practice. 

He insisted all exemptions met conditions set out by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation as he came out in defence of the controversial decision.

‘It’s ultimately the decision of the medical experts an we follow that accordingly,’ Tiley said.

‘We completely understand and empathise with… people being upset about the fact that Novak has come in because of his statements over the past couple of years around vaccination.’

Novak Djokovic (with wife Jelena) will be sent on the first plane home if he can't provide evidence to support his vaccination exemption, Scott Morrison has said

Novak Djokovic (with wife Jelena) will be sent on the first plane home if he can't provide evidence to support his vaccination exemption, Scott Morrison has said

Novak Djokovic (with wife Jelena) will be sent on the first plane home if he can’t provide evidence to support his vaccination exemption, Scott Morrison has said

Tiley acknowledged that questions will be asked about the exemption and the only person who can answer them is Djokovic.

‘It’ll certainly be helpful if Novak was to explain the conditions in which he’s sought an exemption… but ultimately it’s up to him,’ he said.

He added it was up to Djokovic if he wished to discuss his condition with the public as well as why he received his exemption.

All players and spectators at the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, need to be vaccinated or secure an exemption like Djokovic, which is assessed by an independent panel of experts. 

Djokovic will surpass Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as with the most Grand Slam wins in the sport’s history if he wins his tenth Australian Open title on January 30, taking his tally of Grand Slam titles to 21.

There are growing calls for Novak Djokovic (pictured in Adelaide while quarantining for the 2021 Australian Open) to explain his reasons for his vaccination exemption

There are growing calls for Novak Djokovic (pictured in Adelaide while quarantining for the 2021 Australian Open) to explain his reasons for his vaccination exemption

There are growing calls for Novak Djokovic (pictured in Adelaide while quarantining for the 2021 Australian Open) to explain his reasons for his vaccination exemption

While many players weren’t willing to weigh in on the saga, there were some rivals who pledged support for Djokovic.

‘I know we’re big on vaccination in Australia (but) I think it should be the choice of the person whether they want to get the vaccination,’ Australian tennis star Jordan Thompson said.

‘I can see why people are upset but it’s a difficult one. Honestly, I don’t really give a s**t.

‘I just think people should have their say on if they want to get vaccinated or not. I just worry about myself… It’s up to him whether he gets it or not.’

Source: Daily Mail

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