MELBOURNE (AFP) – Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic won a temporary reprieve in his deportation from Australia yesterday, but is set to spend the night in an immigration detention facility as he fights to remain in the country.
The vaccine-sceptic Serb was detained on arrival to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport having failed to “provide appropriate evidence” of double vaccination or a medical exemption.
Djokovic had jetted into Melbourne on Wednesday hoping to defend his Australian Open crown and to bid for an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title, despite Australia’s tough COVID restrictions.
Instead of a conquering champion’s welcome, he was questioned at the airport overnight before having his visa revoked and being transferred to a Melbourne immigration detention facility.
After an emergency court appeal, a judge ordered that the controversial star would not be deported before Monday, when a final hearing will be held.
For months there had been speculation about whether Djokovic would play in the January 17-30 tournament.
Then, ahead of his arrival, a jubilant Djokovic boasted on Instagram that he had scored an unexpected medical exemption to play.
The 34-year-old has refused to reveal his vaccine status, but has previously voiced opposition to being jabbed. He has contracted COVID at least once.