Match point down under
Djokovic was denied entry into Australia on Wednesday after his visa was canceled due to his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He was originally scheduled to be flown out of the country Thursday but was allowed to remain in an Australian quarantine hotel pending the results of his appeal.
The case has attracted widespread attention in the context of national and international debates over vaccine mandates and travel restrictions. Djokovic's lawyers plan to argue that, because he had COVID-19 last month and recovered, he qualifies for a medical exemption to Australia's requirement that all non-citizens entering the country must be fully vaccinated.
According to Reuters, a request from the Australian Department of Home Affairs that the hearing be postponed until Wednesday was denied.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic posted on social media that "the whole of Serbia is with [Djokovic] and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world's best tennis player is brought to an end immediately." The tennis star also has supporters in the United States: "Yes, Djokovic knew the rules. But when the rules are not based on science, it is right to challenge them," conservative journalist Amber Athey wrote in The Spectator World.
Djokovic traveled to Australia to compete in the Australian Open, which began Sunday and runs until Jan. 30. He is currently tied with Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam titles in tennis history. A Grand Slam is achieved by winning the Wimbledon championship and the U.S., French, and Australian Opens in a single year.