Novak Djokovic: timeline of the saga as player’s visa cancelled for second time

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic is at the centre of a storm of controversy after his visa was cancelled for a second time following scrutiny of the medical exemption he had secured to enter the country.

The decision, by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, means Djokovic now faces being deported.

Mr Hawke said, on Friday, he used his ministerial discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds three days before the Australian Open is to begin.

The Standard looks at how the saga has unfolded

January 4

The Serbian tennis star was given an exemption to play at the tournament in Victoria, despite the rules initially stating players must be double-vaccinated against the virus to participate.

A statement said: “Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.”

The Australian Open said the decision had been made "following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts”.

It prompted a huge backlash in Australia, where 90 per cent of the population is fully jabbed. Australians still face restrictions due to a wave of cases sparked by the Omicron variant.

January 5

Upon landing in Melbourne, Djokovic was denied entry to the country based on an issue with his visa.

Australian border force officials claimed that the tennis player’s medical exemption was not sufficient for him to enter Australia.

Djokovic was held at the airport before being transferred to an immigration facility.

Djokovic at the Australian border (@cokeefe9)
Djokovic at the Australian border (@cokeefe9)

January 6

In a statement released on Thursday, ABF said he had “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to enter Australia” and that he would be held in an immigration centre before being deported.

Acting sports minister Jaala Pulford tweeted: “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 are a matter for doctors.”

Djokovic is currently being held at The Park Hotel, a quarantine facility in Melbourne’s Carlton neighbourhood.

His mother Diana claimed on Thursday that her son was being held like a “prisoner”.

"It’s just some small immigration hotel, if we can call it a hotel at all," she said. "Some bugs, it’s dirty, and the food is so terrible."

Fans gathered outside the Park Hotel (REUTERS)
Fans gathered outside the Park Hotel (REUTERS)

January 7

Djokovic broke his silence over the incident in an Instagram post.

“Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated,” he said on Friday.

Meanwhile, details of a leaked letter from Tennis Australia to the Association of Tennis Professionals sent last month were uncovered by the Herald Sun.

The letter, sent on December 7, showed how the organisation had mistakenly informed unvaccinated players that they could enter if they had recovered from Covid in the past six months.

Mr Djokovic’s team are thought to have applied for his visa based on a recent Covid infection.

The tennis player’s legal team is currently appealing his proposed deportation.

Djokovic, who has won the tournament nine times, has appealed against the decision – but must wait for a hearing on Monday to discover his fate.

He now faces spending the weekend at the Park Hotel, which is also used to house asylum seekers and refugees.

Two other people connected to the tournament also joined Djokovic in being instructed to leave the country by the Australian Border Force.

One of the individuals is Czech doubles specialist Renata Voracova, who played in a warm-up tournament in Melbourne this week but has now opted to leave Australia.

January 10

In a virtual court hearing that saw pranksters hijack the live stream and protesters pepper sprayed outside his lawyers office, Djokovic was freed from detention.

A judge quashed the government's decision to cancel his visa on the grounds it was unreasonable.

Australian immigration minister Alexander Hawke said he would weigh the use of personal powers to deport him anyway. Just after midnight, Djokovic tweeted a photo of himself practicing at Rod Laver arena.

January 12

Social media posts and eyewitness accounts contradict Djokovic's immigration form declaration that he did not travel for 14 days before entering the country.

Djokovic posts a statement on Instagram apologising for the mistake on the form and for leaving quarantine to do a photoshoot with L'Equipe.

January 13

Djokovic included in the Australian Open draw as top seed.

January 14

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic's visa for a second time, saying he may pose a health risk.

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