Fresh doubts emerge over Djokovic's Australian Open participation due to visa issue

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player

Novak Djokovic's participation at the Australian Open is reportedly back in doubt due to an issue with his visa.

World number one Djokovic flew into Melbourne on Wednesday, a day after revealing he had been cleared to take part in the tournament after receiving a medical exemption.

The Serbian has not directly addressed whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but players who compete at Melbourne Park either require proof they have been jabbed or an exemption.

He has spoken openly and critically about vaccine mandates, insisting there should be freedom of choice in all walks of life.

Many Australians criticised the decision to welcome Djokovic into the country, but the 34-year-old appears to have hit another stumbling block in his battle to defend the title he has won a record nine times.

Men's grand slam winners - Djokovic, Federer, Nadal
Men's grand slam winners - Djokovic, Federer, Nadal

Reports from Australia suggested that the Victorian government had rejected an application from Border Force regarding Djokovic's visa as a member of his support team made an error in requesting a sub-class of visa.

And Jaala Pulford, the acting sports minister of the state of Victoria, later declared on social media that Djokovic's application will not be supported.

"The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic's visa application to enter Australia," she posted on Twitter.

"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."

The latest twist in the Djokovic saga comes after Australian prime minister Scott Morrison stated that Djokovic "will be on the next plane home" if he fails to prove he merits medical exemption to play in the tournament.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley insisted on Tuesday that the 20-time major champion had not been given a "special favour" to play in the tournament, which is scheduled to run from January 17 until January 30.

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