Novak Djokovic facing anxious wait over Australia visa appeal
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Ryanair has got involved with Novak Djokovic’s visa fiasco with a hilarious tweet. The world No 1 had his visa cancelled when he arrived in Melbourne for the upcoming Australian Open, having received a medical exemption to play. He now awaits the results of an appeal hearing on Monday and is being kept in a quarantine hotel for the weekend.
Djokovic announced in an Instagram post on Tuesday that he was flying to Australia for the season-opening Grand Slam after being given “an exemption permission.”
Tennis Australia confirmed that the nine-time Australian Open champion had “applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.”
But while the world No 1 was en route to Melbourne, Australian Border Force officials found that a member of Djokovic’s team had applied for the “wrong type” of visa, instead having documents that did not cover medical exemptions and required the Serb to be fully vaccinated to use the visa.
When the 34-year-old landed in Melbourne late on Wednesday local time, he was taken to an airport room by border officials and questioned overnight.
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According to The Age, the Serb attempted to enter the country on the basis that he had recovered from a Covid-19 infection in the last six months, the grounds for his medical exemption, which was rejected by Australian Border Force.
Djokovic presented “minimal” evidence for his exemption, supported by just one doctor, and was unable to show further documentation when asked by both border officials and the Victorian government.
On Thursday morning local time, it was then announced that his visa had been cancelled and the 20-time Grand Slam champion would be deported.
“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 border said in a statement.
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“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.”
Djokovic’s lawyers have since appealed his deportation and are attempting to get his visa reinstated, meaning the world No 1 will stay in a quarantine hotel over the weekend before the hearing resumes on Monday at 10am – just one week before the Australian Open begins.
The vaccine mix-up has since gone viral, becoming an international story and attracting a series of memes and jokes.
One company getting in on the news is Ryanair, as the budget airline offered Djokovic a flight home after his visa was cancelled.
“Unlucky @DjokerNole Flight home?” they wrote, alongside a graphic mimicking a hawkeye line call.
The graphic shows two halves of a tennis court with ‘Australia’ and ‘Not Australia’ either side, as the ball lands in the side that isn’t Australia.
“Official review: OUT,” it reads.
But Djokovic will now have a few days before he needs to arrange a flight home, and may not need to at all if he wins his appeal on Monday.
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