Novak Djokovic, threatened with deportation by Australia, which canceled his visa, obtained a stay until Monday, but was preparing to spend his second night in detention on Thursday, new episode of an incredible saga that has turned to the diplomatic incident. The tennis player received the support of his family, his fans on the spot but also the Serbian president.
The Serb, who arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday evening in the hope of participating in the Australian Open, has taken legal action against the cancellation of his visa. Christopher Tran, a government lawyer, said during a hearing before a judge on Thursday that the government has no plans to deport the player until a new hearing scheduled for Monday.
During a first hearing Thursday before a Melbourne judge, a government lawyer said the deportation would not come 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 let himself be led by his mount,” he warned.
A motley handful of supporters, Serbs, waving flags, anti-vaccines and migrant advocates gathered Thursday outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, a controversial facility used by the government to detain people in an irregular situation, and where Djokovic is supposed to be. On the spot, early in the night fans of the player shouted “Freedom for Djokovic”.
21 people caught the Covid in this hotel
This hotel, in front of which protests regularly take place, has a bad reputation. A fire broke out there in December, forcing his evacuation. The selected people complained on social networks, supporting photos, of finding maggots and molds in the food. In October, 21 people there contracted Covid-19.
“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 “Gordana, a Serbian who lived in Australia for 26 years, was angry 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 after authorities explained that he had not provided the correct information. The fate reserved for “Djoko” has gone badly on the side of Serbia. Its president Aleksandar Vucic wrote on Instagram that “all of Serbia was with him (Djokovic)” and that “the authorities were taking all necessary measures to ensure that the mistreatment of the best tennis player in the world ceased as soon as possible”.
Serbian daily Informer headlined “a shame”: “Biggest scandal of all time! The best tennis player on the planet to be deported from Australia.” Djokovic was already in the crosshairs of the Australian political class after the announcement of his medical exemption to participate in the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal’s reaction
Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who contracted Covid last month despite two doses of the vaccine, has expressed little sympathy for his Serbian rival. “If you’re vaccinated you can play the Australian Open and anywhere, 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 it happens sometimes”, for his part philosophized the Russian Daniil Medvedev. . “I have had a lot of visa issues in my career,” he said.
Already a winner of 20 Grand Slams, like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic was aiming for a record 21st Australian Open title, a tournament he has 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 in April 2020 against compulsory vaccination. “Personally, I am not for vaccines. I would not like someone forcing me to be vaccinated to travel,” he said. He finally announced 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 exemption 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 officials.
Djokovic’s family virulent against 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 in front of protesters in Belgrade that he was asking “for support (for his son), not violence”. “Jesus was crucified and subjected to many things, but he held and is still alive among us. Novak is also crucified in the same way, him the best sportsman and man in the world. He will hold on”, estimated Djokovic senior.