Australia said Thursday it had cancelled the entry visa of Novak Djokovic, opening the way to his detention and removal in a dramatic reversal for the tennis world No. 1.
A vaccine skeptic, Djokovic had landed in Melbourne a few hours earlier, after celebrating on social media that he had a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open without proof he was fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The exemption, granted by tournament organizers after his application had been cleared by two medical panels, sparked fury among Australians who have endured lockdowns and restrictions for 2 years.
But the 9-time Australian Open champion, who touched down at Melbourne airport late Wednesday, never got past border control.
"Mr. Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled," the Australian Border Force said in a statement.
"Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia.
"The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements."