Renata Voracova, 'several' others join Novak Djokovic in immigration detention before Australian Open

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Novak Djokovic, who remains in Australian immigration detention, was joined by Czech women's player Renata Voracova on Friday after her visa was canceled, authorities said.

Djokovic, the No. 1 ranked men's tennis player in the world, was first detained on Wednesday over a visa and medical exemption mixup after arriving to compete at the Australian Open later this month. He will likely remain in detention through the weekend until a full court hearing on Monday, per Reuters.

Voracova, ranked No. 81 on the women's side, plans to leave Australia rather than mount a fight around the country's vaccine requirements and medical exemption protocols. Australia has strict COVID-19 vaccination policies and has a vaccination rate of nearly 92% as it remains vigilant to keep the coronavirus contained.

Voracova joins Djokovic in immigration detention

Voracova, 38, had already played a warmup tournament in Melbourne in advance of the Australian Open. She entered the country on a vaccine exemption granted by Tennis Australia after she recently contracted COVID-19, ABC in Australia reported. She had recovered before traveling.

She was detained overnight after authorities informed her she had to leave the country, via Reuters. Officials in her home country, the Czech Republic, are looking for answers.

"We can confirm that Czech tennis player Renata Voracova is in the same detention as Djokovic, together with several other players," the Czech Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We submitted through our embassy in Canberra a protest note and are asking for an explanation of the situation. However, Renata Voracova decided to drop out of the tournament due to limited possibilities for training and to leave Australia."

Voracova is a doubles specialist and played with Katarzyna Piter of Poland at the Melbourne WTA event, but they lost in the first round.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia
Novak Djokovic has a court hearing on Monday in Australia. (Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Djokovic remains in detention

Djokovic, 34, celebrated the Orthodox Christmas in the Park Hotel on Friday. The location is near downtown Melbourne and for refugees and asylum seekers. Supporters gathered outside.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said Tuesday he received a medical exemption to enter the country without having received the vaccine and said he would compete. But upon arrival, he was detained with authorities saying the evidence did not fit the requirements for an exemption.

His lawyers won approval for him to stay until a full court hearing against the federal government can be held on Monday. Djokovic has refused to disclose his vaccination status, criticized mandates and previously held a tournament as the COVID-19 pandemic first started that resulted in multiple people, including himself, contracting the disease.

While people have suggested Djokovic is a prisoner, the Australian government assured everyone publicly on Friday that the star does not have to stay.

"He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that," Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews told reporters.

The Australian Open begins Jan. 17. Djokovic is hoping to win a record 21st Grand Slam singles title. He has won nine Australian Opens.

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