Novak Djokovic has been stuck at the Melbourne airport for hours amid an outcry over his controversial “medical exemption” agreed by the Australian Open organisers.
By late Wednesday, it remained unclear where the world No 1 tennis player and reigning Australian champion was.
Earlier reports from down under said Djokovic had been held up at passport control at Tullamarine airport in Melbourne, the host city of the tournament.
The Victoria state government said it had refused to formally support Djokovic’s visa application.
It was reported that the visa with which the tennis ace attempted to enter Australia does not allow for exemptions for applicants who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.
In the past two-time defending champion has made his opposition to Covid-19 vaccination public, sparking the criticism inside Melbourne, Victoria, and across Australia, which is experiencing a resurgence of the virus.
With Djokovic’s management trying to resolve the visa issue the exact grounds for his exemption are unclear.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Djokovic’s participation in the high-profile tournament was still not certain.
Morrison warned Djokovic could be on the next plane “home” if he was unable to provide proof of his medical exemption.
The defending champion has an option to return to Serbia, but he has instructed his lawyers to fight the cancellation of his visa.
Djokovic will remain at a Melbourne hotel for immigration detainees until Monday when the court will hear his appeal seeking to overturn a federal government decision.
The 2022 Australian Open begins on Monday, 17 January, and ends Sunday, 30 January.
There were more than 297 000 active coronavirus cases in Australia on Wednesday.