Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic may not be able to defend his 2021 title after his visa to enter Australia was canceled following an outcry over his controversial “medical exemption” from the country’s coronavirus vaccination rules granted by the competition’s organizers.
Djokovic, the men’s tennis world no.1 player, hasn’t publicly revealed his vaccination status — but in a news conference on Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he “didn’t have a valid medical exemption” to the vaccination requirement for all arrivals.
“Entry with a visa requires double vaccination or a medical exemption,” Morrison said. “I am advised that such an exemption was not in place, and as a result, he is subject to the same rules as everyone else.” “There are many visas granted, if you have a visa and you’re double vaccinated you’re very welcome to come here,” he added. “But if you’re not double vaccinated and you’re not an Australian resident or citizen, well, you can’t come.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said Thursday it was up to Djokovic whether he wanted to appeal the decision — “but if a visa is canceled, somebody will have to leave the country.” Djokovic’s lawyers plan to challenge his deportation from Australia, and an appeal hearing is set to be heard Thursday evening, according to CNN affiliate Nine News — however, his application to appeal the decision has not yet been submitted to court.