Novak Djokovic’s entry to Australia has been held up following widespread backlash over a decision to allow him an exemption from vaccination so he could attend the Australian Open Grand Slam tournament in mid-January.
The world No.1 landed in Melbourne on Wednesday after saying he had been given a medical exemption to play in the tournament, but he has been held up by a visa error while trying to gain entry, Australian media reported.

The Age newspaper said the Australian federal Border Force had contacted the Victoria state government asking if it would support his application after his team applied for the wrong kind of visa.

Acting Victoria Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said: “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 Age reported Djokovic had landed in the country around 11:30pm local time but more than two hours later was still being quizzed by officials. It was not clear whether the federal government would allow his entry.

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It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned the 34-year-old Serbian tennis star, who has declined to share his vaccination status and who previously spoke out against vaccines, would not be allowed entry if he failed to show a genuine reason for being medically exempt.

Mr Morrison said earlier on Wednesday there would be “no special rules” for Djokovic, who has won nine titles at Melbourne Park including the last three.

“If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home,” he told a media conference.

The decision to make Djokovic medically exempt so he could attend the Australian Open on 17 January sparked furore among sports people, medical professionals and politicians, who took to social media to criticise the move.

Stephen Parnis, a former vice-president of the Australian Medical Association, said the decision was “appalling”, while the deputy Victorian Liberal leader, David Southwick, said it was a “disgrace”.

Australia, which has had the longest cumulative lockdown in the world, is currently seeing record numbers of Covid-19 due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The country’s federal and state governments have heavily pushed the importance of vaccinations. As a result, 90 per cent of people over 16 have been double dosed and a booster programme is rolling out.