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Tennis: judge Kelly orders the release of Novak Djokovic

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Federal Circuit Court judge Anthony Kelly has demanded the release of world tennis number 1 Novak Djokovic, who has been in a detention center since arriving in Australia. If this decision can allow the Serb to participate in the Australian Open, the Australian government can still decide his expulsion.

Novak Djokovic has won in his duel against the Australian authorities: a judge ordered his release from the detention center in which he had been placed on his arrival in the country, where the world number 1 wants to enter without being vaccinated against the Covid -19. But with a week before the start of the Australian Open, which Djokovic still hopes to play, Christopher Tran, a government lawyer, warned that Canberra could still decide to expel the Serbian player, which would result in him being banned. any entry into Australian territory for three years.

An unprecedented setback for Australia

Judge Anthony Kelly’s decision, however, is an unprecedented setback for Australia, which has notably imposed strict border restrictions to fight the pandemic for two years. The judgment further provides that legal costs incurred by the 34-year-old will be at the expense of the Australian taxpayer.

“Novak, Novak, Novak” chanted dozens of fans of the champion marching, drumming, in front of the federal court in Melbourne, which decided on Monday the case which had been held in suspense since January 5, Australia, Serbia and the whole world, around the fate of the player placed since his arrival in Melbourne in a detention center for migrants.

Djokovic placed in a building for migrants

“I really do not understand the reason why you do not allow me to enter your country,” Djokovic told a customs officer upon his arrival at Melbourne airport on the night of January 5-6, according to a transcript. of his interrogation. According to the court’s findings, the player did not have the opportunity to present his arguments before his visa was invalidated by the authorities. The morning after his arrival, Djokovic was informed that he had until 8:30 am to respond to the possible cancellation of his visa. But at 7:42 am, the customs officer had already canceled it. For the judge, if the authorities had given him time, Djokovic “could have consulted other people and presented arguments to explain why his visa should not be canceled”.

Djokovic, now mocked by the nickname “Novax”, has been detained at the former Park Hotel, a five-story building that accommodates around 32 migrants trapped in Australia’s immigration system, some of them for years. Present at a rally in Belgrade, Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, for her part once again lambasted the “inhuman” conditions of her son’s detention. “He is only entitled to one lunch and one dinner and he has no normal window, he is looking at a wall,” she told regional television, TV N1.

According to his lawyers, a request to transfer the player to a center where he could train for the Australian Open had also gone unheeded. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said over the weekend that Serbia fully supported the champion and that she had had “constructive talks” with the Australian Foreign Minister. “We made sure he got gluten-free food, sports equipment, a laptop,” she told Serbian TV Pink.

Another unvaccinated player has left the territory

While this did not affect his trial, the fact that Djokovic tested positive on December 16 sparked controversy: he indeed appeared without a mask in Belgrade the next day, to attend a ceremony in the honor of young Serbian players. Chosen as “Djoko” after also seeing her visa canceled, Czech player Renata Voracova, a doubles specialist, left Australia on Saturday.

Australian federation boss Craig Tiley defended his organization on Monday against criticism accusing him of misleading players about entry requirements, saying the government “refused” to verify the validity medical exemptions before the arrival of players. While much of Australia has tightened health 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.

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