World No 1 Novak Djokovic denied entry into Australia at Melbourne; the Serb had flown to Australia with an "exemption permission" but the visa applied for did not allow for medical exemptions; Djokovic moved to hotel quarantine as team launched appeal; appeal now adjourned until Monday
Thursday 6 January 2022 13:53, UK
Novak Djokovic's appeal against his visa cancellation in Australia has been adjourned until Monday, with the Serb to remain in Melbourne quarantine until then.
In the early hours of Thursday morning in Australia, Djokovic was denied entry into the country after his visa was cancelled by border force officials at Melbourne airport.
The 34-year-old challenged the Australian Border Force's refusal to allow him a visa to enter the country and his appeal has now been adjourned until 10am on Monday in Melbourne, court officials confirmed.
After Australia's Border Force confirmed Djokovic's visa had been revoked, the Serb's injunction request against the visa cancellation was initially listed for hearing at 4pm (0500 GMT) in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, according to court documents.
The hearing was later adjourned until 6pm (0700 GMT), and now until 10am on Monday (2300 Sunday GMT).
The record nine-time Australia Open champion has been told by the Federal Court of Australia that he can remain in Melbourne until his appeal resumes.
|Djokovic announces he will be travelling to Australia with an 'exemption permission' on Tuesday, January 4.|
|While Djokovic is airborne, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the athlete will be on the "next plane home" if he cannot provide "acceptable proof" that his exemption is legitimate.|
|Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford highlights that the local government of Victoria, where the Australian Open is held, will not support Djokovic's visa application.|
|The world No 1 arrives at Melbourne Airport around 11.30pm on Wednesday, January 5.|
|Around 3.15am local time in Australia, Djokovic's father reports that his son is being held in isolation in Melbourne Airport.|
|At 5am local time, Goran Ivanisevic releases an image on social media of himself and Djokovic's physiotherapist seemingly waiting for the world No 1. The post is captioned, ‘Not the most usual trip Down Under’.|
|Around 8.15am local time, Djokovic's visa confirmed to have been denied.|
|Djokovic moved to quarantine hotel while team appeal visa cancellation.|
|Appeal against visa cancellation adjourned until Monday 10am Australia time.|
On Tuesday, the world No 1 announced he was travelling to Australia on an "exemption permission", but after landing in Melbourne on Wednesday evening he was held in isolation after reportedly attempting to enter the country on a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated against Covid-19.
After being held for several hours in the airport, during which he was placed in isolation in a police-guarded room, the Serb's visa was cancelled in Australia.
An Australian Border Force statement read: "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."
Shortly after the announcement, Australian PM Scott Morrison re-iterated that nobody was above the country's border rules.
"Mr Djokovic's visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to borders. No one is above these rules," he said in a tweet.
"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."
On Wednesday, Morrison had said Djokovic would be "on the next plane home" if his evidence for a Covid-19 vaccination exemption to play at the Australian Open was not satisfactory.
Greg Hunt, Australia's Minister for Health, made it clear that if Djokovic wished to try and stay in the country, he would need to follow the appropriate processes.
"It's a matter for him as to whether he wishes to appeal that," Hunt said in a statement. "But, if a visa is cancelled then somebody will have to leave the country."
Rafael Nadal has said Djokovic knew for months he could potentially face problems in Australia if he arrived without being vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Of course I don't like the situation that is happening," Nadal told reporters after winning his match at the Melbourne Summer Set ATP 250 tournament. "In some way I feel sorry for him.
"But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision."
The 35-year-old Nadal tested positive for COVID-19 last month after playing at an exhibition in Abu Dhabi. The Spaniard said he faced a "very challenging" few days.
Djokovic, who has publicly criticised mandatory vaccines, has refused to disclose his inoculation status and said he had been granted a medical exemption to compete in Australia.
"[It] seems some rough situation," Nadal said. "It's normal that the people here in Australia get very frustrated with the case because they have been going through a lot of very hard lockdowns, and a lot of people were not able to come back home.
"I believe in what the people who knows about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. That's my point of view."
The 2022 Australian Open is due to start on Monday, January 17.
The tournament's singles draw will be conducted during a special event at Margaret Court Arena on Thursday, January 10.
Tennis Australia has also said it needs to know by Tuesday at the latest whether Djokovic would be allowed to enter Australia.
Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian President: "What can we do? I spoke to Novak Djokovic for the first time last night, then the second time this morning. Nikola Selakovic, the foreign minister, is in the US, so Vlada Maric called the Australian Ambassador last night and then this morning again.
"Ana Brnabic is currently calling some woman, I don't know the name, from Australian home affairs, all asking just one thing: to let Novak Djokovic move out from this horrific hotel into a rented home where he can prepare for the tournament, while he is awaiting a court decision on Monday. In this house, he can be under surveillance 24 hours.
"Whatever Novak has asked his country to do we did, we wanted to do it and it's our obligation to do it. It is our obligation, as a state, to protect the interests of our citizens. We are dedicated to that. There is this time difference, but our foreign ministry will do everything, we are active on the issue.
"What's not fair is this political persecution, that everyone is taking part in, even the Australian prime minister.
"I have also spoken to the father of Novak Djokovic multiple times. We are all in contact, our minister of sport too. But I'm afraid that this kind of political ranting against Novak Djokovic will continue. They want to prove something else. When you can't beat someone then you do these kind of things."