Tennis star Novak Djokovic on Wednesday was asked to leave Australia, just hours after he was denied entry into the country due to an issue with his visa and vaccine requirements.
A member of the Serbian tennis player's team had reportedly requested a visa that does not apply to people who have been granted medical exemptions from vaccine requirements like Djokovic has. Though he has not publicly disclosed his vaccination status, Djokovic has previously expressed opposition to vaccines.
Djokovic traveled to Australia this week in order to play in the 2022 Australian Open, a Grand Slam tournament.
Now the BBC has reported that Djokovic was told he will be deported from Australia, following hours of interviews with authorities and an investigation into his visa.
Djokovic's attorneys have said they will seek to overturn this decision. It remains unclear if he will remain in the country while the matter is being argued.
News of this development has elicited outrage from Djokovic's home country of Serbia, according to the BBC. His father, Srdjan Djokovic, accused the Australian government of holding him captive.
"I have no idea what is going on. They are holding my son captive for hours," the older Djokovic told Serbian media, according to The Telegraph. "If they don’t release him in the next half an hour, we will fight them on the street.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić also voiced his support for Djokovic, writing on Instagram that he had spoken to the tennis player over the phone and was "taking all measures to stop the harassment of the best tennis player in the world in the shortest possible period."
"In accordance with all norms of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth," wrote Vučić.
Australia has some of the most stringent travel restrictions in the world, requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination and proof of a negative PCR test before traveling to the country. People who are not fully vaccinated must have a valid visa or a Commissioner’s travel exemption as well as permission to enter Australia states or territories.
Many territories and states also have quarantine requirements in place, though the length varies from area to area.
Exemptions for people who are not fully vaccinated are granted for a variety of reasons, including being a foreigner traveling to Australia to help with the COVID-19 response, traveling in the national interest of the country's government, possessing critically needed skills or being sponsored to work in the country by an employer.