Novak Djokovic has been subjected to “harassment” during his ongoing dispute with Australian authorities, according to Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic.
But he was then left stranded at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport overnight and issued with a letter by the Australian government saying his visa had been denied and he would be deported.
The Australian Border Force confirmed Djokovic had failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the country’s entry requirements, causing his visa to be cancelled.
But Vucic, who reportedly accosted the Australian ambassador in Belgrade in attempt to resolve the situation, has now criticised the treatment Djokovic has received.
His statement read: “I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end immediately.”
The Australian Open gets underway on Monday 17 January in Melbourne.
Djokovic, who is seeking a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam win at the Australian Open, touched down in Melbourne on Wednesday about 23.30 local time [12.30 GMT] after a 14-hour flight from Dubai.
But he was still awaiting permission early Thursday morning to enter the country 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, the state where the Open is played, to say it would not support Djokovic’s application, putting his fate in the hands of the federal government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Mr Morrison later tweeted: “Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from Covid, we are continuing to be vigilant.”
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