Djokovic in detention center waiting for deportation
World Tennis champion Novak Djokovic remains in a detention center in Melbourne, facing deportation and launching an urgent court challenge to be heard.
The Serb star was stopped by border officials on arrival to Australia late on Wednesday and denied entry into the country.
He is currently being held at an immigration detention facility in Melbourne and faces deportation.
Djokovic had flown into the city's Tullamarine Airport expecting to defend his Australian Open championship title, and to win an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title.
He had mentioned that he had obtained an exemption to play in the tournament, which begins on January 17, without being vaccinated.
Happy New Year! Wishing you all health, love & joy in every moment & may you feel love & respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 4, 2022
I’ve spent fantastic quality time with loved ones over break & today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022! pic.twitter.com/e688iSO2d4
The 34-year-old has refused to reveal his vaccine status publicly, but has previously voiced opposition to being jabbed. He contracted Covid at least once.
Australia's conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison pointed out that Djokovic failed to provide officials with evidence of double vaccination or an adequate medical exemption.
"Rules are rules and there are no special cases," Morrison said.
Djokovic's lawyers are now arguing against that decision in court, hoping to prevent the star's deportation.
Djokovic's case reveals divides in Australia
This whole debacle had obviously not been part of the Tennis star's plans, as his tweet reveals. Djokovic would not have gotten on the plane and taken the long flight to Australia had he not gotten a green light from tournament officials.
With 26 of the approximately 3,000 players and support staff traveling to Australia for the tournament having applied for a vaccine exemption, and only a handful gaining it following an assessment by two panels of independent experts, Djokovic's situation was puzzling and infuriating for his supporters, who are protesting outside his detention center, and for his home country of Serbia.
The issue prompted Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to say the tennis player was a victim of "harassment" and that "the whole of Serbia" supported him.
Amid this whole debacle, Australia is tackling a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the Omicron variant coming into play just as the country was loosening restriction, with a sense of panic making people even more on edge.
The timing for Djokovic could not have been worse, as this is an opportunity for politicians to further politicize the matter by showing their tough stance on rule-breakers with state and federal elections due this year.
Read more: How COVID Was Politicized in the West
Djokovic has launched an urgent court challenge to be heard on Monday, before the Australian Open begins, in the hopes that a court will overrule the decision to deport him.