Djokovic ‘could be banned from Australia for three years’ over visa controversy

Novak Djokovic may be banned from Australia for three years following the debacle surrounding his visa, according to reports.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who last year repeatedly refused to disclose his Covid-19 vaccination status, applied for a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open – where full vaccination is a requirement to compete – and that was granted by tournament organisers.

However, Djokovic also needed to satisfy the requirements of Australian Border Force in order to take his place at the event, but after touching down in Melbourne on Wednesday, it was decided that Djokovic had not provided sufficient evidence to justify his unvaccinated status.

Australian health minister Greg Hunt confirmed the news of Djokovic's visa cancellation on Wednesday night (Thursday morning in Australia) when he said the tennis ace would be sent home as he had failed to provide "appropriate standards of proof" to be allowed to enter the country.

In the early hours of Thursday morning Djokovic was reportedly transported in a silver Volkswagen van to the Park Hotel in Carlton, in inner city Melbourne. Djokovic's legal team succeeded in preventing the 34-year-old from being deported immediately, and he will remain in the country until Monday at the earliest, when an appeal against his visa cancellation will be heard.

It is reported by Australian outlet The Age that authorities have not ruled out banning Djokovic from entering the country for three years should that appeal be unsuccessful.

Tennis Australia claimed on Thursday that other players who are due to play in the Australian Open have been allowed into the country after contracting COVID in the past six months, using the same exemption that Djokovic applied for.

Therefore, Border Force is set to launch investigations into the other players following the furore around the nine-time Australian Open champion's attempted entry into the country.

“I’m aware of those allegations, and I can assure you that the Australian Border Force is investigating that now,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said.

“ABF needs the opportunity to be able to conduct its investigation. But if the evidence is not there, then they will take the appropriate action.”

Rafael Nadal, the 2009 champion in Melbourne, weighed in on the Djokovic situation, saying he feels sorry his great rival but at the same time believes he brought the problem on himself.

"I think if he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem," the Spaniard said, following victory at a warm-up tournament in Melbourne.

"He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences.

"Of course I don't like the situation that is happening. In some way, I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision."

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