The Australian Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, finally used his discretionary power to cancel, on Friday January 14, the visa of the world number one in tennis, Novak Djokovic, judging that the fact that the Serbian player is not vaccinated against Covid-19 could pose a risk to the community.
On Monday, the federal court in Melbourne ruled in favor of the Serb by nullifying the cancellation of his visa, a snub for the Australian government. This second cancellation of his visa implies, for the tennis player, the ban on entering the country for three years, except in certain circumstances.
“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and rightly want the outcome of those sacrifices to be protected”, reacted the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. This saga around the tennis champion has indeed a strong political connotation in Australia, whose inhabitants have endured for almost two years some of the strictest anti-Covid-19 restrictions in the world, and where elections are expected from here. to May.
Novak Djokovic, who was aiming, by participating in the Australian Open (January 17-30), a record – that of 21and title of a Grand Slam tournament – however should appeal. If he fails to do so, or if he does not win his case, he will be immediately expelled from Australia.
Over the past few days, embarrassing revelations have weakened Novak Djokovic’s defense. Before embarking for Melbourne, the world number one celebrated Christmas in Belgrade then made a detour to Marbella (Spain) to train – as evidenced by images published on social networks -, which he did not not specified in the form for entering Australian territory, made public on Tuesday.
The player has admitted to not correctly filling out his declaration to enter Australia, and not respecting the rules of isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 in December – a contamination which he hoped would allow him to benefit from an exemption to enter Australia without being vaccinated.
Wednesday, in a press release published on Instagram, the Serb explained that his agent had completed the document by committing a “human error, certainly not deliberate”. A survey of the German weekly Der Spiegel published on Tuesday also came cast doubt on the date of the positive PCR test presented by Novak Djokovic, hypothesizing that it would not have taken place on December 16 but on December 26…
Moreover, if this PCR test had indeed taken place on December 16 and if it had turned out to be positive, then the tennis player would not have respected the rules of isolation in Serbia. That day, Novak Djokovic appeared without a mask during the presentation of a stamp bearing his likeness by the Serbian post. The following day, he presented trophies to youngsters at his academy in Belgrade, posing among them once again unmasked.
“I was asymptomatic (…) and only received the information of my positive PCR test after this event was over”, justified the player on Wednesday, who admitted a “misjudgment” by also receiving a journalist and a photographer from the sports daily The Team December 18.
Ten days of imbroglio
January 4: Novak Djokovic, who then never communicated on his vaccination status, announces on social networks that he is flying to Australia, benefiting from a ” exemption » to participate in the Australian Open (January 17-30), where he is aiming for a 10and victory and a 21and coronation in a Grand Slam tournament, a record.
January 5: The Serb is stranded by Border Patrol on arrival at Melbourne airport and he has his visa canceled for failing to provide “appropriate evidence” to enter Australia.
January 6: Djokovic files a legal appeal against the cancellation of his visa and his expulsion. The latter is suspended and the player is placed in a detention centre.
January 8: His lawyers say he was granted a vaccination waiver by the Australian Tennis Federation and the State of Victoria because he tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16.
January 10: A judge orders the immediate release of Novak Djokovic from the detention center, considering that the cancellation of his visa by the federal authorities was not legal.
January 14: Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announces he has revoked world number one’s visa “on health and public order grounds, on the grounds that it was in the public interest to do so”.