An online hearing in Australian Federal Court is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. local time on Monday to rule on the Djokovic case. The world tennis number 1 is still in a detention center after being refused entry to the territory to participate in the Australian Open.
World tennis number 1 Novak Djokovic was preparing this Sunday to defend his chances of playing the Australian Open by arguing in court Monday that he was exempt from vaccination and could enter the country after contracting the Covid -19 in December. The online hearing in federal court is scheduled for 10 a.m. local time (11 p.m. GMT). Uncertainty reigns over the participation in the hearing of Novak Djokovic, still in his detention center.
Tested positive on December 16
No one except staff is allowed in or out of the facility, which is located in a former hotel, where 32 migrants are also held, trapped in Australia’s immigration system, some for years. A handful of protesters gathered on Sunday morning at the bottom of the detention center, where hundreds of supporters, anti-vaccination protesters and migrant rights activists had already gathered the day before in a festive atmosphere.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said over the weekend that Serbia fully supported the player and that she had had “constructive talks” with the Australian Foreign Minister. “We made sure he was given a gluten-free diet, exercise equipment, a laptop,” she told Serbian television Pink.
In an order made public this Sunday, Judge Anthony Kelly said the case would proceed as scheduled, denying a government request to adjourn until Wednesday. “The date of the first positive PCR test was recorded on December 16, 2021”, which would allow the world number 1 to be exempted from the vaccination imposed by Australia, said on Saturday the lawyers of the Serbian, 34, in a report. document filed with federal court.
Djokovic, however, attended two public events in Belgrade, the day and the day after this positive test in December, according to various social media posts: a ceremony in honor of young Serbian players on December 17 – without a mask – and the presentation of a tribute stamp to his effigy the day before.
Entry into the territory refused
Tennis Australia granted him an exemption to participate in the tournament, after his request was approved by two independent medical panels, his lawyers said. But on his arrival in Australia, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the authorities had refused him entry, considering that his grounds for exemption did not meet the strict conditions for entry into the territory imposed against the Covid-19.
The Australian government insists that a recent infection with the Covid-19 virus only counts as an exemption for residents only, not for foreign nationals trying to enter the country. Foreigners are still banned from traveling to Australia, and those allowed to enter must be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption. For Djokovic, time is running out, eight days before the Australian Open (January 17-30), which he won nine times and where he aims to afford a 21st Grand Slam tournament, which would place him in the summit of tennis history, ahead of its two historic rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
In a video that leaked to the local press on Saturday, the boss of the Australian Federation Craig Tiley, under fire from critics for his management of the file, defended the “incredible work” of his teams. The Federation has been accused of misleading players about vaccination obligations to enter the country. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended the revocation of Djokovic’s visa. “The rules are the rules,” he said.
Selected as “Djoko” after also having her visa canceled, Czech player Renata Voracova, 38, a doubles specialist, left Australia on Saturday, a government source said. While much of Australia has tightened 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.