Updated: January 7, 2022 9:41:47 pm
On Friday, Novak Djokovic said he was grateful and thanked people for their unconditional support since he was denied entry to Australia because of his vaccination status.
He wrote on his Instagram, “Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated”.
The world no 1 was not permitted to enter when he landed in Australia. His visa was canceled and he is now living in an immigration detention hotel.
Djokovic, who is seeking a men’s record 21st major singles title, has been a vaccine skeptic and has declined to acknowledge if he’s had shots for COVID-19.
His attendance at the Australian Open, where he’s a nine-time champion, had been up in the air for months because of Australia’s strict vaccination requirements.
Djokovic’s social media post on Tuesday that he had received exemption permission and was heading to Melbourne sparked some outrage in Australia, where people have endured months of lockdowns and closed state and international borders during the pandemic.
But Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley defended the “completely legitimate application and process” for the medical exemptions and insisted there was no special treatment for Djokovic.
Tiley said 26 people connected with the tournament applied for a medical exemption but only a “handful” were granted. None except Djokovic, who noted it on social media, were publicly identified at the time. Now three of them are either in detention or have left.
Australian Open organizers have not made any official comment on the visa process or the medical exemption since Wednesday.
On Friday, the Australian Border Force confirmed that action was taken against two other people who were having the same issues.
In an e-mail to The Associated Press, the border force said following investigations into two other cases of people connected to the Australian Open “one individual has voluntarily departed Australia … and the visa of a third individual has been canceled.”