Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt described denying Novak Djokovic's visa as "tough" but "fair." Djokovic flew to Melbourne on January 5 but was held at the Melbourne Airport for nine hours before being told that his visa was denied.
Djokovic was ordered to leave the country but he refused to quit. Djokovic's lawyers are in the process of appealing the decision. On Tuesday, Djokovic announced he was granted a medical exemption to play the Australian Open.
"It's tough, but it's fair," Hunt said. "There was an exemption that had been provided through the Victorian government process, clearly that did not pass the standards of proof that were required by the Australian border force."
Scott Morrison confirmed the Djokovic news
Australian Prime Minister Morrison acknowledged no one is above the rules, not even 20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic.
"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," Morrison tweeted.
Before Djokovic was denied visa, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic contacted Australian authorities and demanded from them to stop "harrasing" Djokovic. "Just got off the phone with with Novak Djokovic. I told our Novak that the whole 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 period.
In accordance with all the norms of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth. Otherwise, Novak is strong, as we all know him," Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in an Instagram post.
Djokovic's chances of competing for a record 10th Australian Open this January are not very big at the moment.