Novak Djokovic’s entry into Australia delayed by ‘visa bungle’

Novak Djokovic

The Novak Djokovic Australian Open exemption saga took a fresh twist on Wednesday after his entry into Australia was delayed due to a “visa bungle”.

Following months of speculation about whether or not he would adhere to the strict guidelines that all players have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to compete at the hard-court Grand Slam, Djokovic confirmed on Tuesday that he is on his way to Melbourne after being given an “exemption”.

The announcement unsurprisingly caused an uproar in Australia, but Tennis Australia insisted he was granted an exemption after a “rigorous review process”.

However, on Wednesday morning Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that Djokovic “must provide acceptable proof” for the exemption upon his arrival or “he’ll be on next plane home”.

Novak Djokovic ‘must provide acceptable proof’ for exemption or ‘he’ll be on next plane home’

Then hours later Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford sent a curious tweet saying the state government would not be supporting Djokovic’s visa application.

“The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia. We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam,” the tweet said.

She added: “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.”

Not long after The Age reported that Djokovic’s plane had landed in Melbourne, but “the 20-time Grand Slam winner was attempting to enter the country on a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated”.

There was quite a bit of back-and-forth between the state and government players with the report adding: “Federal authorities contacted Victorian departmental officials asking them to formally back his application. Victorian officials asked the federal authorities to put their request in writing and eventually rejected the request to sponsor Djokovic’s visa.”