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Novak Djokovic gets a reprieve from his deportation

Axel May, with AFP
modified to

7:37 p.m., January 06, 2022

The Serb, who arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday night hoping to compete in the Australian Open, has filed a legal challenge against the cancellation of his visa. Christopher Tran, a government lawyer, said during a Thursday hearing before a judge that the government does not plan to deport the player until a further hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Demonstrations of support

During an initial hearing on Thursday before a judge in Melbourne, a government lawyer indicated that the eviction would not take place until another hearing scheduled for Monday. Judge Anthony Kelly, before whom Thursday’s hearing took place, warned that justice would take its course without haste and without being influenced by the controversy. “The rider will not allow himself to be led by his mount,” he warned.

A ragtag handful of supporters, flag-waving Serbs, anti-vaxxers and migrant advocates gathered outside Melbourne’s Park Hotel, a controversial facility used by the government to hold illegal immigrants, on Thursday and where Djokovic is supposed to be. On the spot, at the start of the night, fans of the player shouted “Freedom for Djokovic”.

21 people caught Covid in this hotel

This hotel, in front of which demonstrations regularly take place, has a bad reputation. A fire broke out there in December, forcing its evacuation. Detainees have complained on social networks, with supporting photos, of finding maggots and mold in the food. In October, 21 people contracted Covid-19 there.

“Why didn’t you tell him anything before he came to Australia? Why now? I have a lot of questions. (…) I love Australia but what you are doing now is a shame for you “, got carried away Gordana, a Serb who lived 26 years in Australia, with AFP. Djokovic was all smiles to announce his departure for Melbourne on Instagram on Tuesday. But the Serb, who had opposed compulsory vaccination and whose vaccination status is unknown, was finally disillusioned.

His visa was canceled, the authorities explaining that he had not provided the correct information. The fate reserved for “Djoko” went very badly on the side of Serbia. Its president Aleksandar Vucic wrote on Instagram that “the whole of Serbia is with him (Djokovic)” and that “the authorities are taking all necessary measures so that the bad treatment of the best tennis player in the world stops as soon as possible”.

The Serbian daily Informer headlined “a disgrace”: “The biggest scandal of all time! The best tennis player on the planet will be deported from Australia.” Djokovic was already in the crosshairs of the Australian political class after the announcement of his medical waiver to participate in the Australian Open.

Rafael Nadal’s reaction

Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who contracted Covid last month despite two doses of the vaccine, expressed little sympathy for his Serbian rival. “If you get vaccinated, you can play the Australian Open and everywhere, and in my opinion the world has suffered enough to break the rules,” Nadal said. Djokovic “made his own decisions, and everyone is free to make their own decisions, but then there are consequences,” he added. “If he has an exemption, then he should be here. If something went wrong with his papers and they didn’t let him in, well that happens sometimes,” said Russian Daniil Medvedev. . “I had a lot of visa problems in my career,” he said.

Already winner of 20 Grand Slams, like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic was aiming for a record 21st title at the Australian Open, a tournament he won nine times. For months, “Nole” had cast doubt on his participation because of the obligation to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter Australia.

Djokovic against compulsory vaccination

Djokovic spoke out in April 2020 against compulsory vaccination. “Personally, I’m not for vaccines. I wouldn’t like someone to force me to get vaccinated to travel,” he said. He finally announced on Tuesday that he had obtained a medical exemption allowing him to make the trip to Australia. The country’s regulations provide for this type of derogation in rare cases.

Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, posted a photo on Instagram of him and other members of his staff waiting at the airport while the player was questioned by immigration authorities.

Djokovic’s family virulent against the Australian government

Thursday afternoon, the family of Novak Djokovic held a very virulent press conference against the Australian government, believing that the world number one was being held as a prisoner. The player’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, insisted to protesters in Belgrade that he was asking for “support (from his son), not violence”. “Jesus was crucified and subjected to many things, but he held on and is still alive among us. Novak is also crucified in the same way, he is the best sportsman and man in the world. He will hold on,” said Djokovic senior.

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