Professional tennis player Novak Djokovic was denied entry into Australia after he claimed to have a COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption.
The 34-year-old tennis pro from Serbia was hoping to defend his title in the Australian Open.
His previous announcement of his exemption drew the ire of many Australians–whose country had suffered through some of the longest periods of lockdowns.
However, due to strict travel restrictions Down Under, border control officers detained the tennis star at Melbourne airport before ultimately ruling to cancel his visa.
On Tuesday, Djokovic, who has continually been evasive about his vaccination status, posted an optimistic tweet about traveling to Australia with an "exemption permission" in the hopes of seeking a record 21st Grand Slam singles title.
Australian Open organizers issued a statement stating Djokovic will be allowed to compete in the tournament, which starts on January 17.
The organizers' statement read:
“Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts."
"One of those was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health. They assessed all applications to see if they met the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation guidelines.”
Grounds for Djokovic's medical exemption have not been publicly disclosed.
Now that he's been denied entry, Djokovic plans to challenge the decision made by Australia’s Borce Force.
He remains held in Melbourne as his appeal has been adjourned until Monday, January 10 at 10 a.m, according to court officials.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison took to Twitter announcing the cancellation of Djokovic's visa, saying there would be no exception to the country's border rules.
"Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules," Morrison said, adding:
"Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.”
In the meantime, Twitter users mocked the tennis star with an abundance of memes.
Kicking off the slew of memes was this Photoshopped image of Roger Federer.
His circumstances were reminiscent of the events depicted in Steven Spielberg's 2004 film, The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks.
More ridicule continued.
While Djokovic remains mum about whether or not he's been inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine, he previously revealed his anti-vax stance during a live Facebook chat with fellow Serbian athletes.
The Guardian reported that in 2020, Djokovic said:
“Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel. But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision.”
“I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know."