Tennis star Novak Djokovic is set to be deported from Australia after the government reportedly refused to recognize his COVID-19 vaccine exemption.
Djokovic received a medical exemption earlier this week to participate in the Australian Open, which otherwise requires players to be vaccinated for COVID.
Djokovic has voiced opposition to COVID-19 vaccines, and the exemption sparked backlash in Australia. After arriving at the airport in Melbourne, Djokovic reportedly spent the night in a police-guarded room due to an issue with his visa.
"The extraordinary, escalating soap opera surrounding the world's best men's player arrived to a political storm and a visa controversy as he jetted into Tullamarine Airport after a 14-hour flight from Dubai," Australia's 7 News reports. "Djokovic was still awaiting permission early on Thursday after it emerged that his team had applied for a visa that does not allow for medical exemptions. That prompted the local government of Victoria to say it would not support Djokovic's application, putting his fate in the hands of the federal government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison amid a visa mix-up that could derail his hopes of defending his Australian Open title."
Acting Victoria Sports Minister Jaala Pulford wrote on Twitter: "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 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."
Djokovic reportedly planned to file an appeal to stop the deportation.