Djokovic not singled out over visa: PM

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
  • Scott Morrison
    30th Prime Minister of Australia

Scott Morrison has insisted Novak Djokovic was not harassed or singled out by border officials after the government blocked the tennis star's entry to the country.

The world No.1's visa was cancelled on Thursday morning after he arrived into Melbourne late on Wednesday and was questioned for several hours by the Australian Border Force.

The prime minister said Djokovic did not have the right visa to enter the country, despite being cleared to participate in the tournament courtesy of a COVID-19 vaccine exemption from the Victorian state government.

"People are welcome in Australia, but if they're not double vaccinated and not an Australian resident, you can't come," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

"Rules are rules, and there are no special cases.

"Ultimately, this is the responsibility for the traveller to be able to assert and back up their ability to come into the country."

Djokovic has been taken from the airport to a nearby hotel quarantine facility in Melbourne where he will wait until his flight out of the country.

It's expected Djokovic will appeal the visa decision.

People entering the country without quarantine are required to be double vaccinated.

Unvaccinated people must provide proof they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, or they will be deported.

Djokovic has not publicly stated his vaccination status, but it is widely believed he has not received a COVID-19 vaccine.

He said on social media earlier this week he had received a medical exemption that cleared him to participate in the grand slam.

Before a decision was made by the Commonwealth to cancel Djokovic's visa, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Australia was harassing the tennis star.

"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," Mr Vucic said in a statement cited by Reuters.

Despite the comments from the president, Mr Morrison said Australia's diplomatic relationship with Serbia would not be impacted.

"There's no suggestion of any particular position in relation to Serbia, Serbia is a very good friend of Australia," he said.

"This is a very specific case with one individual and Australia's sovereign border laws."

The visa cancellation comes after the federal government challenged a statement by Victoria's Sports Minister Jaala Pulford that border forces had asked the state to support Djokovic's visa application.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said despite the state government granting Djokovic a medical exemption to participate in the tournament, he was not embarrassed by the situation surrounding the tennis star's visa cancellation.

"The Commonwealth lets you into the country. Tennis Australia, in partnership with the state, lets you into the tournament," he told reporters on Thursday.

"Someone issued Novak Djokovic a visa, it wasn't the Victorian government."

Mr Foley said the state government wrote to the Commonwealth last year about the process Victoria was using to grant entry for players to the tennis tournament.

"We determine in partnership, led by the Australian Open in partnership with the state, who then gets to play in that tournament once they are here," he said.

"Those who want to undermine the confidence of the Victorian community around that pandemic response ... that's their business. I wish they wouldn't."

Mr Morrison said the onus on entering the country was on the individual, and that Djokovic was not targeted.

"When people make public statements about what they have ... they draw significant attention to themselves ... and whoever does that, they can expect to be asked more questions than others," Mr Morrison said.

"That's how border force works, he was not singled out at all."

Djokovic was looking to win his 10th Australian Open title in the grand slam tournament, which gets underway on January 17.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting