Home International Does the Novak Djokovic case reveal “an Australia not Open at all”?

Does the Novak Djokovic case reveal “an Australia not Open at all”?


The expulsion of Novak Djokovic revolts the Serbs but it is consistent with the way Australians deal with immigration issues and the Omicron wave on its soil. For the editorialist Vincent Hervouët the decision of Canberra to expel the champion shows that no one should doubt “the determination of the State”.

Serbian leaders are overflowing with contempt and anger towards Scott Morrison, it’s like being in Paris three months ago when our submarines splashed and the Élysée was betrayed. The difference is that President Vučić vociferates while Emmanuel Macron displayed cold anger. We can put this down to the Balkan temperament or to the proximity of the elections.

Djokovic seen as “a hero, a saint”

In two and a half months, the Serbs will vote to choose their president and their deputies. If Djokovic showed up, he would get a plebiscite. The champion is a hero, an example, a saint, he is a prophet in his country. And to suggest that he should have been vaccinated before heading to Melbourne would be political suicide. So Alexandre Vučić fully supports him.

In Australia, it’s the same and it’s the opposite. The elections are in June. Scott Morrison’s government is in resuscitation, totally overwhelmed by the Omicron wave. 71% of Australians were in favor of Novak Djokovic’s expulsion. Power did not hesitate for long.

The Minister of Immigration, the Almighty

It was Immigration Minister Alex Hawke who decided on Friday to cancel the player’s visa. Because there is an immigration minister who is all-powerful within the government. In any case, his discretion far exceeds that of his colleagues. He is the Minister of Reason of State. She is blind. This is how he justified his decision… According to him, the presence of the champion was “likely to maintain the anti-vaccination feeling of the population” and “run the risk of a resurgence of civil unrest”.

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This caution is surprising in a country where 92% of over-sixteens are vaccinated. But this is to make an example. Let no one doubt the determination of the State. Exactly the same type of reasoning is applied to migrants.

Australia: a country populated by immigrants that no longer lets any migrants in

An island to which no boat-people land. Those who are not boarded at sea and returned to Indonesian ports are transferred to the Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea, in other words, sent to hell. They can rot on their feet for years in offshore detention centres.

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The “Sovereign Borders” operation was relaunched in 2013. Some migrants have been languishing for 8 years in the suffocating heat of the tropical forest where they are forgotten. A thousand foreigners were thus abandoned in limbo in conditions that would shame even the prison administration in France.

Among them, there are some who are granted political asylum and who end up obtaining it. They can then stay on the spot, in the island of Manus or in the micro-state of Nauru, Canberra finances the regional resettlement program in its former colony of Papua but it prohibits them from joining Australia, even if they fulfill all the required criteria.

The end justifies the means

This implacable policy arouses the fear of the United Nations, it has been condemned by the Churches, by the NGOs, by all the defenders of Human Rights. The Australian government remains unapologetic. He replies that his determination has saved lives by dissuading migrants from embarking and drowning.

It is the same kind of firmness that prevailed in the face of the epidemic, the country having closed its borders to protect itself from the virus. Contrary to what Novak Djokovic must have thought, Australia is not very Open.

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