Update: This file has been updated with the decision to cancel Djokovic's visa. Novak Djokovic landed in Melbourne just before midnight Wednesday local time—but the world's top-ranked tennis player wasn't allowed to actually enter Australia. The Serbian star spent the night at Tullamarine Airport due to visa problems and a possible lack of evidence for his medical exemption to COVID vaccine requirements, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Officials later confirmed that his entry visa had been canceled, per the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "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," the Australian Border Force said in a statement. Djokovic's lawyers are expected to challenge the move.
In an error discovered while Djokovic was already on the 14-hour flight from Dubai, officials found that a member of his support team had requested a class of visa that didn't apply to people who had received medical exemptions, according to the Times of London. Djokovic has refused to disclose his vaccination status, and the granting of an exemption to play at the Australian Open caused widespread outrage in Australia, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison warning that he would be sent home if he failed to "provide acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons." A government source tells the Herald that the justification for the exemption is believed to be a COVID infection in the last six months, but it's not clear whether Djokovic, an outspoken vaccine skeptic, has provided the correct documentation.
Jaala Pulford, acting sports minister for Victoria state, said late Wednesday that the state government had rejected a request from the federal government to sponsor Djokovic's visa, the Age reports. "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," Pulford tweeted. (Read more Novak Djokovic stories.)