5th January, 2022
Novak Djokovic landed in Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport at about 11p.m local time on Wednesday, but six hours after, he was yet to pass through passport control.
The drama at the Australia immigration threatens Djokovic’s bid to increase his grand slam titles.
His father Srdjan reportedly told a Serbian radio station that his son was “isolated in a room” at the airport without his entourage or mobile phone.
“Novak is currently in a room which no one can enter,” Srdjan Djokovic, told the B92 internet portal.
“In front of the room are two policemen.”
A federal government source told The Age there were issues regarding the documentation required to prove the reason for Djokovic’s exemption, which is required from unvaccinated people.
Djokovic is believed to be relying on the fact that he has had Covid within the past six months.
However the source said it was unclear if that was sufficient to secure entry under federal guidelines.
Earlier the Victorian Government tweeted saying it was rejecting Djokovic’s entry because he was on a work visa which requires the support of the state government.
Acting Sports and Major Events Minister Jaala Pulford tweeted at 11.14pm that the Victorian Government would not support Djokovic’s application.
“The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia,” she said.
“We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.
“We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions a matter for doctors.”
However a Border Force official reportedly denied the Victorian Government’s claim that he was being held up because of a visa issue.
“ABF did not request Victorian government support a visa.
“ABF reached [out] to the Victorian government to validate their public statements about their support for his entry, and whether Victoria had further information related to his medical exemption documentation,” she told The Age.
Border Force officials have the discretion to allow Djokovic into the country in spite of the Victorian government move. However his fate is still unclear.
A government source told the Herald Sun “they may have to send him or put him in immigration detention”.
Australia reacted with disgust to news the nine-time champion at Melbourne Park had been granted a vaccination exemption to play in the tournament starting on January 17.
And despite months of claims from Victorian government officials Djokovic wouldn’t be able to play without being fully vaccinated, the Serbian — an outspoken anti-vaxxer — revealed he had been granted permission to compete in the grand slam.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews released a statement on Wednesday and Prime Minister Scott Morrison made remarks appearing to imply Djokovic was not yet in the clear.
*Australian newspaper reports