Novak Djokovic won’t likely play at the Australian Open 2022 after the Government canceled his visa, per reports from The Age. The World No. 1 was asked to leave the country today (Jan. 6 in Australia). He was detained for more than six hours at the airport while authorities verified the evidence to support a vaccine exemption.
According to reports from The Age and Sidney Morning Herald, Djokovic’s lawyers are in the process of challenging the decision. However, it seems like the chances for him to be at Melbourne for the start of the tournament, January 17, are very slim. It's unclear if he will be relocated while he appeals or if he is leaving the country.
It’s hard to not believe that this is the worst outcome not only for Djokovic, who was looking for a record breaking 21st Grand Slam and 10th AO, but also for Tennis Australia, who did everything in their power to guarantee his participation. How did it all come to this? We answer the question with what we know so far.
Why was Novak Djokovic’s medical exemption not valid?
It’s hard to answer this question as Novak Djokovic hasn’t talked publicly about his vaccination status or his health. However, The Age suspects that the Serbian alleged that a Covid-19 infection in the past six months for his exemption. Djokovic has only admitted getting Covid-19 in June 2020, after the Adriá Tour controversy.
Other reports, per Argentinian journalist Danny Miche, had stated that Djokovic had suffered from cardiac problems and asthma in the past. Either way, his medical documentation, which according to Tennis Australia was reviewed by two independent panels, wasn’t enough for the Victorian government to consider the exemption. This evidence is required to be presented at the border by unvaccinated people.
On the other hand, The Age and The Herald also reported that the nine-time champion was attempting to enter the country on a visa that did not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated. The Border Force “reached out to the Victorian government to validate their public statements about their support for his entry and whether Victoria had further information related to his medical exemption documentation,” said a spokesperson.
What Tennis Australia has said about Djokovic’s case?
According to The Age, a Tennis Australia source has said that the move was “a publicity stunt that solely targeted Djokovic and not other players who had already entered with the same exemption.” However, the organization hasn’t made an official comment on this situation yet.