Novak Djokovic lands in Melbourne but visa doesn’t allow for medical exemptions

Novak Djokovic has landed in Melbourne but is still awaiting permission to enter the country to compete at the Australian Open after it emerged that his team had applied for a visa that does not allow for medical exemptions.

Key points:

  • Novak Djokovic was detained by Australian Border Force after arriving in Melbourne late on Wednesday night
  • The Victorian government says it will not support his visa application and says it's a matter for the Commonwealth
  • Djokovic's father says supporters will "gather in the streets" if the situation is not resolved soon

Djokovic touched down at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport on Wednesday about 11:30pm AEDT after a 14-hour flight from Dubai.

The Victorian government said it will not support Djokovic's application, putting his fate in the hands of the federal government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Acting Victorian Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said three government agencies had contacted the state government to ask if it would support the player's visa application.

"[Djokovic's] position to enter Australia is very much an issue for the federal government, above and beyond his entry to the country and that of other people participating in the Australian Open who are similarly seeking an exemption," Ms Pulford said.

"What we've done is make sure, to the greatest extent possible, that we're running an event that is as COVID-safe as we can, that was always all predicated on an expectation that the question of Novak's entry to the country was something that Commonwealth government agencies would deal with."

Federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck said the Victorian government was not asked to support the visa application, and described that claim as a "red herring".

He said the Victorian government was only asked to provide information related to the exemption that was granted.

"Anyone coming to Australia has to comply with a range of conditions and that's what's being ascertained at the moment so [Australian] Border Force has a role to conduct and that's what it's doing right now," he said.

Djokovic's coach, Goran Ivanisevic, posted a photo to Instagram of himself and other members of the Serb's support team waiting at Melbourne Airport with the caption "not the most usual trip Down Under".


Djokovic's father, Srdjan, told Serbian media that his son was waiting, alone, in a room at the Tullamarine airport under armed guard for a final decision on whether he could enter the country.

"I have no idea what is happening, they are holding my son in captivity for five hours," he told Sputnik Serbia.

Srdjan Djokovic said the player's supporters would "gather on the street" if the situation was not resolved soon.

"This is a fight for the liberal world, this is not just a fight for Novak, but a fight for the whole world."

Australian Border Force said it was examining an "issue" with Novak Djokovic's Australian Travel Declaration, hours before he landed in Melbourne late last night.

Former tennis player Sam Groth said the Djokovic saga was overshadowing the build up to the Australian Open.

"It's creating backlash, not just here in Australia because I feel like the Australian population and the Victorian people have been very, very vocal about how they feel about Novak coming in the first place," he told Channel Nine.

"The question is how we're going to look to the rest of the world. It's turning a little bit ugly."

Djokovic has received a COVID-19 vaccination exemption to compete at the Australian Open, following a "rigorous review process".

Yesterday, the decision was met with widespread criticism, but Tennis Australia and Victorian government officials say Djokovic was not given special treatment.

The Serb's exemption application was assessed by two separate panels who did not know the name, age or country of origin of the person making the application.

Tennis Australia said 26 people made vaccine exemption applications related to the Australian Open, and "only a handful" were granted.



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