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Exemption, detention, cancellation: How Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa saga unfolded

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player

Novak Djokovic’s defence of his Australian Open title remains in doubt after Australian immigration officials cancelled his visa for the second time.

Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to challenge the dramatic decision taken by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday, the day after the nine-time champion was drawn to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

Here, we look at the how the saga has unfolded:

Jan 4: Djokovic tweets that he is on his way to the Australian Open under a medical exemption. He writes on Instagram: “I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!!”

Jan 5: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warns Djokovic he will be on the “next plane home” if his medical exemption is deemed insufficient, and is adamant Djokovic will not receive preferential treatment.

Jan 5: Djokovic’s visa is cancelled upon his arrival in Melbourne. The Australian Border Force announces that the player “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements for Australia”.

Jan 6: Djokovic is sent to the Park Hotel in Melbourne after being refused a visa. He launches an appeal, which is adjourned until 10am on January 10. Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic says Djokovic is the victim of “persecution”.

Jan 9: Djokovic’s lawyers claim he was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he recorded a positive Covid-19 test in Serbia on December 16. However, social media posts suggest he attended a number of social events in the days following his apparent diagnosis.

Jan 10: Djokovic’s visa cancellation is quashed by Judge Anthony Kelly, who orders the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic from detention within half-an-hour. Djokovic says he is “pleased and grateful” and wishes to “stay and try to compete”.

Jan 11: Djokovic’s title defence remains in doubt as the Australian Immigration Minister ponders whether to over-ride the court’s ruling, reportedly due to an alleged misleading claim made by Djokovic on his entry form relating to his movements in the 14 days prior to arrival in Australia.

Jan 12: Djokovic admits making an “error of judgement” by attending an interview with a French journalist while Covid positive. He adds that, although he attended a children’s tennis event the day after being tested, he did not receive notification of the positive test until after the event.

Jan 13: Djokovic is drawn to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

Jan 14: Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancels Djokovic’s visa for a second time, saying in a statement it was “on health and good order grounds”.

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