The federal government has cancelled the visa of tennis player Novak Djokovic just days out from the Australian Open.
The decision comes after the world number one said he had a COVID-19 vaccination exemption, allowing him to compete in the event.
Djokovic was detained at a Melbourne airport for several hours following his arrival in Australia around 1120pm on Wednesday after the Australian Border Force raised concerns over his entry visa.
It’s expected the decision will be appealed.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the visa was cancelled following an overview of the exemption provided by the Victorian government.
“It is a matter for him whether he wishes to appeal, but if a visa is cancelled, somebody will have to leave the country,” Mr Hunt told the Seven Network.
The ABF said Djokovic did not have the appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews warned ahead of Djokovic’s arrival that while the Victorian government and Tennis Australia may allow a non-vaccinated player to compete in the Australian Open, it was the federal government that dealt with border entry requirements.
Since December 15, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can arrive in Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption and can travel to eligible states and territories without having to quarantine.
But if a person is not vaccinated, they must provide proof they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or be turned away.
Djokovic has not officially disclosed his vaccination status but it is widely believed he is unvaccinated.
“No individual competing at the Australian Open will be afforded any special treatment,” Ms Andrews warned on Wednesday afternoon.
Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie said this was a classic case of “money and power”.
“I really don’t care whether you have power or money. If your visa is not satisfactory and you haven’t got the right one, send them home,” she told Nine Network on Thursday.
“He might be a tennis great but he has to play by the rules and regulations for other Australians and people coming here.
Overnight, Victoria’s Sports Minister Jaala Pulford said the federal government had asked if the state would support 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,” she posted on Twitter.