Novak Djokovic has been told that he is not being held “captive” in Australia and he is free to leave the country. The No 1 on Friday took to social media to thank his fans for their support as he remained in visa limbo before his Monday court hearing.
A Czech doubles star has now joined the Serb in the same detention hotel after her visa to play the Australian Open was also cancelled.
And tournament organisers are under increasing pressure after a leaked document showed they gave misleading information to players seeking to play without a vaccine.
Djokovic’s detention has become an international incident with his father Srdjan comparing him to Jesus and Spartacus – and his mother Dijana claiming he is being held “prisoner”.
But Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews responded: “Mr Djokovic is not being held captive in Australia. He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that.
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“He hasn’t met the entry requirements – there is a lot of chatter about the visa, but that in my understanding is not the issue, it is the entry requirements that he was not able to produce the evidence which was needed for entry into Australia.”
Supporters continued to gather outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne and Djokovic took to Instagram on Christmas Day in Serbia to write: “Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated.”
The Serb has been joined in the immigration hotel by Renata Voracova as the Australia Border Force checked the credentials of other players to enter the country on vaccine exemptions. Another unnamed individual has already left Australia.
Voracova played in a tournament in Melbourne earlier this week and the Czech Foreign Ministry has lodged a formal protest about her treatment.
The Herald Sun newspaper has published an information sheet sent out by Tennis Australia (TA) stating a Covid infection in the last six months could be considered as a reason to enter the country without a vaccine with proper supporting evidence.
The Age has reported that this is the justification for Djokovic’s exemption. But the Federal Government told TA in November that prior infection did not meet the requirements for quarantine-free entry.
Even Djokovic’s old enemy Nick Kyrgios has come out in support of the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
The Aussie tweeted: “I got vaccinated because of others and for my mum’s health, but how we are handling Novak’s situation is bad, really bad.
“Like these memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better.”
Andy Murray has meanwhile been handed a wildcard into the main draw of next week’s Sydney Tennis Classic before the Australian Open starts on January 17.