After almost nine hours of isolation at Melbourne airport, the Australian authorities banned Serbia's tennis player and the world number one from entering the country despite a medical exception signed by two independent commissions for players not vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to Sport Klub, there is still a slim chance of reversing the decision. Djokovic will stay in a hotel until he appears before a judge. If the decision is confirmed, he will have to leave Australia.
In the meantime, AustralianHealth Minister Greg Hunt said Djokovic did not provide „evidence of a sufficient standard“ to enter the country, and that he would be sent home.
The Australian Open starts on January 17, and Djokovic is the nine-time champion.
„No one knew who the applicant was. It is personal, private, confidential medical information that we have no right to share publicly – but it is very clear in the guidelines under which conditions the exemption was granted,“ said Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia and the director of the Australian Open, said about the commissions that ruled on exception requests.
Djokovic was to defend the title, trying to win the 10th AO GS and have one more than his main competitors Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The three have 20 GS titles each.
Weeks before the start of the first Grand Slam tournament in 2022, the Australian officials and general public were against Djokovic’s coming to Melbourne because he refused to get a vaccine against COVID-19.
The other problem allegedly was that his team filled in the wrong type of visa application. That could explain why the possible ban was announced while Djokovic and his entourage were travelling to Australia.
People in Serbia had a mixed reaction to his ordeal. Some even posted on Facebook that Serbia’s embassy in Canberra did not officially react because Djokovic supported environmentalist protests in Serbia against Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian company’s plan to mine lithium in Serbia.
However, both Serbia’s and Australia’s embassies were said to have been involved and President Aleksandar Vucic later posted on his Instagram profile he had talked to Djokovic and promised him the whole of Serbia stood by him and would fight for „him, justice and truth“ within the international public law boundaries.
There was no immediate reaction from Djokovic or his team to the decision that would most probably prevent him from adding another record to his carrier and coming closer to being declared the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) in tennis.