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Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has become the focal point of a number of memes as the World No.1 faces being deported from Australia.
Djokovic’s visa was cancelled on Thursday morning hours after the Serbian player landed in Melbourne with a medical exemption to compete in the upcoming Australian Open.
The 34-year-old’s tournament hopes are now in ruin and memes mocking the disastrous situation the Serbian finds himself in have flooded social media, with some giving the reigning Australian Open men's champion a serve.
— Four Finger Discount (@fourfingerpod) January 5, 2022
Four Finger Discount, a podcast devoted to The Simpsons, tweeted a picture of Djokovic’s head photoshopped on Bart Simpson’s body.
It’s from the episode where The Simpsons visited Australia and Bart faces being kicked by a man in the buttocks with a giant boot.
Another man photoshopped Djokovic onto the poster of the movie The Terminal: a movie where a man played by Tom Hanks is stuck in an airport as he can’t gain entry into the US.
Satirical online newspaper The Betoota Advocate pulled no punches either.
“Djokovic Sent To Pick Fruit Out The Back Of Griffith After Arriving In Melbourne With Wrong Visa,” it tweeted, along with a photoshopped image of Djokovic picking fruit in a high-vis shirt.
Fellow satirical publication The Shovel also dug its heels in, tweeting: “The Manus Island Open announces wild card entrant Novak Djokovic” and “Victorians granted last-minute medical exemption from Novak Djokovic”.
— The Betoota Advocate (@BetootaAdvocate) January 5, 2022
FULL DETAILS: The Manus Island Open announces wild card entrant Novak Djokovic https://t.co/Npd7onT3E8
— The Shovel (@TheShovel) January 5, 2022
Others joked about who was behind blocking Djokovic’s entry.
“The Border Check when Novak Djokovic arrived in Australia,” one man tweeted.
He included a photo of border security with Roger Federer’s head photoshopped on top.
Others took a similar route, replacing police and border security’s faces with rivals Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios.
Another person tweeted an empty Melbourne street with the caption: “Novak Djokovic supporters take to the streets of Melbourne."
Novak Djokovic supporters take to the streets of Melbourne. pic.twitter.com/7lAXrLaVsI
— Titus O'Reily (@TitusOReily) January 5, 2022
Airline Ryanair used it as a business opportunity, asking if “unlucky” Djokovic wanted a return flight.
It shared a mock-up of an in-match challenge with two squares, “Australia” and “Not Australia”, with the tennis ball hitting the latter.
Djokovic to leave Australia, health minister says
Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed Djokovic would have to leave the country after the cancellation of his visa.
"The ABF (Australian Border Force) can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia and his visa has been subsequently cancelled," Mr Hunt told the Seven Network.
"It's a matter for him whether he wishes to appeal that but if a visa is cancelled, somebody will have to leave the country.
"That follows a review of the exemption which was provided through Victorian government processes."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighed in, saying no one was above border rules.
"Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules," the PM tweeted on Thursday morning.
But the move by the Australian government threatened to cause a diplomatic incident between Canberra and Belgrade.
"I've just finished my telephone conversation with Novak Djokovic," Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic posted on Instagram.
"I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world's best tennis player is brought to an end immediately.
"In line with all norms of international law, Serbia will fight for Novak, truth and justice."
Djokovic had a vaccination exemption that allowed him to compete at the Open, but there's confusion over whether he had the wrong visa or insufficient medical evidence to support his exemption.
It's reported the visa used by Djokovic was the same as three other international tennis players with similar exemptions who had already entered the Australia without incident.
The Victorian government said it was a matter for federal authorities.
"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," Victoria's Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said.
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