Novak Djokovic arrangements underway to fly back to Europe after Australia reject visa

'No special rules for Novak Djokovic' says Australian PM

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Arrangements to deport Novak Djokovic from Australia are already underway, and are likely to be carried out within the next 24 hours. The Serbian touched down in Melbourne in the early hours of Thursday morning local time, but after a lengthy waiting period at the airport he was told he would not be allowed to enter the country.

Djokovic’s involvement in the Australian Open later this month has been in doubt for some time over Covid restrictions in Melbourne, where the tournament is held.

Local rules require all travellers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the state of Victoria.

Those who have not had the jab need a medical exemption to be granted, otherwise they will be turned away at the border.

Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal whether or not he has been vaccinated, citing medical privacy.

The tennis ace told fans on Tuesday that he had been granted an “exemption permission” and that he would be heading Down Under in time for the tournament.

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But while he was in the air reports began to emerge stating that officials had found some discrepancies with the visa application his team had submitted before taking off.

After landing, he was held and questioned by Border Force agents for several hours at Melbourne Airport, while coach Goran Ivanisevic and other members of his entourage waited for news.

Djokovic’s father got involved with a rant to Serbian media, in which he claimed his son was being kept in a room which was guarded by police.

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic even weighed in on the situation, accusing Australian officials of “harrassment” in an Instagram post.

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“In accordance with all the norms of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth. By the way, Novak is strong, as we all know him,” Vucic added.

But the news eventually came that his visa had been denied, and that he would be forced to leave.

Australian health minister Greg Hunt said Djokovic had failed to provide “appropriate standards of proof” to be allowed to enter the country.

While the world number one’s lawyers are reportedly preparing to appeal the decision, the preparations for his deportation are said to already be in full swing.

Australian reporter Clint Stanaway said the Serbian was unlikely to remain in the country for much longer.

“Novak Djokovic to remain in Melbourne for the time being – but ultimately, it’s likely to be a day trip,” he wrote on Twitter.

“He’s about to be transported to a City quarantine hotel, run by the Federal Govt.

“Arrangements are now underway to source a return flight to Europe, likely today.”

Djokovic is the current Australian Open champion, but his chances of being able to defend his title when the tournament begins on January 17 look slim at best.

It would have been a chance to eclipse rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer by winning his 21st Grand Slam title.

If he is unable to convince Australian authorities to let him into the country in time to play, Djokovic’s next chance of Grand Slam success would be at the French Open later this year.

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