Novak Djokovic, the world's top-ranked tennis player, was denied entry into Australia ahead of the upcoming Australian Open.
ESPN reports Djokovic was initially granted an exception for Australia's COVID-19 vaccine requirements prior to traveling to the country from Dubai on Wednesday, however, was told to leave the country on Thursday (January 6) local time after a 12-hour standoff with government officials at Melbourne Airport, where he was confined to a room overnight amid questions regarding the validity of his visa and medical exemption.
The exemption intended to allow the 20-time Grand Slam champion access to enter the country and compete in the upcoming tennis tournament -- which is scheduled to take place from January 17 to January 30 -- despite national laws only allowing international travelers to enter if they are vaccinated.
The Australian Border Force issued a statement obtained by ESPN, which said it "will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements" and said the tennis star "had access to his phone," therefore, should have been able to provide proper evidence for entry.
"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," the statement said. "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."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also addressed Djokovic's deportation in a post shared on his verified Twitter account.
"Mr Djokovic's visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders," Morrison wrote. "No one is above these rules. 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."
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