With over ten days to go before the Australian Open begins, the tournament is already making global headlines after world number one Novak Djokovic's surprise arrival in Melbourne.
The 20-time grand slam champion, who needs one more slam title to break the all time record, was deemed unlikely to compete in the first slam of the year after failing to reveal his vaccination status. Australia currently requires all international arrivals to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or have a suitable medical exemption.
Earlier in the week Djokovic posted to social media that he was on his way to Melbourne after obtaining an "exemption permission", a shock to most onlookers who had assumed the 34-year-old would be missing the Australian-swing after pulling out of the Sydney based ATP Cup.
Djokovic's post was immediately met with criticism and confusion, from both Australians who have complied with two years worth of stringent health measures and other members of the ATP tour.
"He might get booed on the court"
Australians react to tennis player Novak Djokovic's Covid vaccination exemptionhttps://t.co/9eLEjKfCJ1 pic.twitter.com/XeyrOzRlOF
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 5, 2022
I’m not sure Djokovic understands the reception he’ll get in a city that’s been locked down for longer than any other and is 93% vaccinated.
— Julie (@dootsiez) January 4, 2022
In other news water is wet and the sky is blue https://t.co/J5F9hidjB1
— Mitchell Krueger (@mitch_krueger) January 4, 2022
Jamie Murray & Liam Broady’s reaction to Djokovic receiving a medical exemption to play the #AusOpen.
📹 The Guardian pic.twitter.com/cawXxcYF5u
— 💙 (@drivevolleys) January 4, 2022
Upon his arrival in Melbourne, Djokovic was reportedly informed that his visa had been cancelled and would have to subsequently leave the country. While the news erupted over social media, with some users praising the decision of Australia's border force, fans of the tennis champion, including Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Djokovic's father, voiced their displeasure at the Australian government.
Australians finding out Djokovic has been asked to leave the country pic.twitter.com/jtf42UuhRr
— chaotic tennis takes (@IncorrectTennis) January 5, 2022
The important thing to remember about Novak Djokovic being denied entry to Australia after spending a day in the airport thinking he was more important than everyone else is that it is incredibly funny.
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) January 5, 2022
Novak Djokovic's father speaking about Novak's detention in Melbourne Airport: 🗣
"They are holding my son captive. If they don't release him in the next half an hour we will fight them on the street."
Wow. 😳😅 pic.twitter.com/Q8ZoP0wz9T
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) January 5, 2022
Serbian’s President now involved, saying he “will fight for justice and truth.”
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 5, 2022
— 🦋 (@thiemricciardo) January 5, 2022
Djokovic's future in Australia still remains uncertain with his team due to appeal the decision. The nine-time Australian Open champion is due to spend the night in Melbourne before potentially being deported without stepping foot on a tennis court.