Novak Djokovic relieved in bid to defend Australian Open title, as Rafa Nadal speaks out over visa row

Novak Djokovic has been given a reprieve in his bid to defend his Australian Open title after Australia’s Federal Court suspended his appeal against a decision to deny him a visa.

Court officials said Djokovic has challenged the Australian Border Force’s decision to cancel his visa application and deport the nine-time Australian Open champion and adjourned his appeal until 10am in Melbourne on Monday has gone, court officials said.

Australia’s Federal Court has asked the world number one player to remain in Melbourne until his appeals resume.

The 34-year-old traveled to Australia after he was announced to have received a medical exemption from the Covid-19 vaccination rules to compete in the tournament.

However, this was not enough for border officials with regard to entry into a country that has strict entry requirements. After flying to Melbourne, Djokovic was held at the airport for several hours and eventually returned.

A statement from the Australian Border Force (ABF) said: “The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that people who come across our border comply with our laws and entry requirements.

“The ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide reasonable evidence of meeting the entry requirements to Australia, and that his visa has been subsequently revoked.

“Non-citizens who do not have a valid visa upon entry or who have had their visa revoked will be detained and deported from Australia.

“ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic had access to his phone.”

Djokovic has not made public the basis on which the tournament organizers have given him medical exemption. Officials insisted that all players to travel and compete should be vaccinated.

It is reported that Djokovic did not apply for a visa that allows exemptions for those without vaccinations. It is not publicly known whether Djokovic has been vaccinated, but he has previously said he opposes it.

News of the relaxation in the tournament provoked a huge public and political backlash.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that Djokovic would be on the “next plane home” if he could not provide “acceptable evidence” as to why he was exempted.

The Victorian state government also said it would not support Djokovic’s visa application.

After the ABF’s announcement, Morrison said an admission exception could not be made for anyone.

Morrison tweeted: “Mr Djokovic’s visa has been revoked. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our boundaries.

“No one is above these rules. While our strong border policies have been key to Australia, which has one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we continue to remain vigilant.”

Shortly before the ABF statement, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic weighed in on the debate and criticized the way Djokovic was treated.

Vucic wrote on Instagram: “I just finished a phone conversation with Novak Djokovic.

“I told my Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him, and that our authorities are taking all measures to stop the harassment of the best tennis player in the world in the shortest possible time.

“Serbia will fight for justice and truth, for Novak Djokovic, in accordance with all norms of international public law.”

Meanwhile, fellow contestant Rafa Nadal has spoken out on the issue surrounding his old rival.

“Of course I don’t like the situation that’s happening,” said 2009 Australian Open winner Nadal. “Somehow I feel sorry for him.

“But at the same time, he knew the circumstances from many months in advance, so he makes his own decision.

“It is normal that people in Australia get very frustrated with this matter because they are going through a very difficult lockdown…

“I believe what people who know about medicine say, and if people say we need to get vaccinated, then we need to get vaccinated.”