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Australian Open: Judge orders release of Novak Djokovic

“QWhat more could this man have done? On Monday, the judge in charge of the legal hearing concerning Novak Djokovic’s visa ordered the release of the tennis player who was denied the right to participate in the Australian Open for health reasons. Lawyers for Djoko, detained for five days in a center for migrants in Melbourne, were trying to convince the federal court that the 34-year-old player had contracted Covid in December, which would exempt him from a compulsory vaccination to enter the territory. .

For the player’s mother, Dijana Djokovic, at a press conference in Belgrade, “this is the biggest victory of his career, bigger than all the Grand Slams” he has won. But the player is not completely out of the woods yet. “I want to stay and try to participate in the Australian Open,” world number one Novak Djokovic said on his Twitter account on Monday after the judge’s statements. “I am happy and grateful that the judge reversed the cancellation of my visa. Despite everything that happened, I want to stay and try to compete in the Australian Open. I came here to play one of the most important tournaments in front of incredible spectators,” he wrote.

A risk of eviction remains

With the Australian government facing a humiliating and high-profile defeat, barrister Christopher Tran said Immigration Minister Alex Hawke could still order Djokovic’s deportation. ” Someone told me that [le ministre] would consider the possibility of exercising a personal power of cancellation,” he said. This would have the effect of prohibiting him from entering Australian territory for three years.

Rafael Nadal felt on Monday that “the fairest thing” was for Novak Djokovic to be able to play in the Australian Open since “justice has spoken” in ordering his release. “Even if I may or may not agree on certain things with Djokovic, justice has spoken” and “I believe that the fairest thing is that the world number one, who wants to enter Australia without being vaccinated against Covid-19 , is playing the first grand slam tournament of the year,” Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

Admitting to being a little “nervous”, the magistrate considered that the Serb had provided evidence, from “a professor and an eminently qualified doctor”, concerning his request for medical exemption. The hearing opened late after a computer problem caused by too many connections to attend its online broadcast. Antivax shared, despite a ban, the link to follow it by broadcasting it live on YouTube. The judge finally continued the hearing without a live public broadcast, before restricted access, which Agence France-Presse was able to benefit from, was granted.

Djokovic “completely confused”

According to the sportsman’s lawyers, the player was “completely confused” when he was heard for several hours on the night of January 5 to 6 at Melbourne airport. In particular, they argued that he was deprived of means of communication with those around him during his interrogation. The Australian Open, where Djokovic aims to afford a 21e The grand slam tournament that would place him at the top of tennis history, ahead of his two historical rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, begins in seven days and his participation depends entirely on the decision of Anthony Kelly.

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His lawyers say he tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16. However, he attended the next day in Belgrade, without a mask, at a ceremony in honor of young Serbian players. Djokovic, now mocked by the nickname “Novax”, was due to watch the proceedings from the former Park Hotel, a five-storey building that hosts around 32 migrants trapped in Australia’s immigration system, some of them for years. Djokovic obtained permission from the court to follow Monday’s proceedings from another location, kept secret, before being forced to return to the detention center after the hearings. According to his lawyers, his request to transfer to a center where he could train for the Australian Open has remained a dead letter.

On Monday, Australian FA boss Craig Tiley defended his organization against criticism accusing him of misleading players about requirements to enter the country, saying the government had refused to check the validity of exemptions medical before the arrival of the players. While much of Australia has tightened health restrictions to fight a new wave linked to the Omicron variant, the state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, recorded 44,155 new cases on Sunday.

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