Australia revived the Djokovic saga in spectacular fashion on Friday by again canceling the visa of the world number one in tennis on Friday, whose case must be examined in the evening during an emergency hearing before a judge. The 34-year-old tennis player, who entered Australia without being vaccinated against Covid-19, continued to train on Friday in the hope of winning a 10th title at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, and a 21st victory in Grand Slam, which would be a record.
Australian authorities intend to order the return of world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic to detention as early as Saturday morning, government lawyer Stephen Lloyd announced on Friday. Shortly after, the judge in charge of the case announced that he would divest in favor of an Australian Federal Court.
Australian court stays Djokovic’s deportation
Alas, at the end of the day, the Minister of Immigration published a press release announcing the cancellation, for the second time, of the Australian visa of the Serb. A decision taken “on health and public order bases”, specified Alex Hawke, who said he was “firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic”. “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and rightly want the outcome of those sacrifices to be protected,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
A summary hearing was to be held Friday evening before Judge Anthony Kelly, who had already blocked the tennis player’s expulsion for the first time earlier this week. “Djokovic is extremely well armed and has a competent team around him. He can either stay and fight or leave,” explained immigration lawyer Christopher Levingston, assuring that the player could appeal appeal of the Minister’s decision in federal court. Novak Djokovic actually asked shortly after the justice to block his expulsion, and the latter agreed to stay his expulsion.
“Mistakes” made and recognized by the Serbian player
“Nole” had already had his visa canceled when he arrived in Melbourne on January 5 and was placed in a detention centre. But his lawyers had obtained from Judge Kelly that he restore his visa and order his immediate release on January 10. Djokovic has admitted to incorrectly filling in his entry declaration to Australia, and not respecting the rules of isolation after he tested 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.
Djokovic also pleaded “human error” to explain how a wrong box on his Australian entry form was checked. The world number one was still under threat of deportation on behalf of the discretionary power of the Minister of Immigration, finally employed on Friday after a five-day suspense. Dreams of a 10th title in Melbourne are receding, especially as this visa waiver means Djokovic will be banned from entering the country for three years, barring certain exceptional circumstances.
A ban on entering the territory that can be lifted
The three-year visa ban can be lifted to suit the interests of Australians, says lawyer Christopher Levingston. This saga around the tennis champion has a very strong political charge in Australia, where residents have endured for almost two years some of the strictest anti-Covid restrictions in the world, and where elections are scheduled for May.
As the government’s decision languished, pressure mounted around Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accused of ‘incompetence’ by opposition Labor leader Kristina Keneally, noting that the Serb had obtained his visa 58 days earlier.
Players who take a stand on the case of “Nole”
Some tennis players pleaded for Djokovic to be able to participate in the Open, but others were much more critical. Novak Djokovic “played by his own rules” by choosing not to be vaccinated before the Australian Open and “makes the majority of players look like idiots”, Greek world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas said on Thursday. in an interview with the Indian media WION. The soap opera is also followed assiduously in Serbia, where politicians erect the star as a national hero.
In the streets of Belgrade, Stanislav Urosevic, a 69-year-old retiree, grumbled after the decision of the Australian government: “I have the impression that we want to prevent him at all costs from winning another title, as it is gone they will ban tennis if necessary”. “I had a feeling somewhere that the politicians wouldn’t let go, that they would end up making this decision. All of this is disgusting,” reacted Jasmina Ostojic, 47, a supermarket cashier. The player’s brother, Djordje Djokovic, told AFP that the family would not speak until the end of the ongoing legal proceedings in Australia.