Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has had his visa to enter Australia dramatically revoked on his arrival in Melbourne.
The world number one was held on the city’s airport for several hours before border officials announced he had not met entry rules and would be deported.
Djokovic was then taken to a government detention hotel. His lawyers have launched an urgent appeal in court.
The decision follows a massive backlash over a vaccine exemption Djokovic said he got to play in the Australian Open.
The Serbian player has not spoken about his vaccination status, but last year said he was “opposed to vaccination”.
As per reports, Tennis Australia said his medical exemption had been granted by two independent medical panels, but border officials said he had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” for entry after arriving on Wednesday from Dubai.
“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 Australian Border Force (ABF) said in a statement.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has reported that two other people were now having their medical exemptions reviewed.
Meanwhile, The Federal Circuit Court adjourned Djokovic’s legal challenge after two brief administrative hearings.
“Rules are rules,” the Australian PM said, about Novak Djokovic being deported.
Djokovic is now at a hotel in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton which is used for immigration detention. The facility has been the site of Covid-19 outbreaks and a recent fire.
Outside the hotel, supporters of Djokovic were angry at his treatment. His fans took to Twitter and expressed their anguish over the decison.
One of the user said: “Australia denied entry to Djokovic, the defending champion, even though he provided medical exemption as they requested.
“Other players have to decide whether to participate or boycott the tournament. A choice between eternal shame or honor,” he added.
While several people Tweeted on a trend #BoycottAustralianOpen.
The 34-year-old Serb was Australian Open champion in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021. His hopes of another title in 2022 were derailed after his visa was cancelled.