World tennis number one Novak Djokovic, threatened with deportation by Australia, which refused him entry and canceled his visa, was granted a stay until Monday, a new episode in a saga that turned to the diplomatic incident.
The Serbian, detained by immigration services in Melbourne since his arrival Wednesday evening with the intention of participating in the Australian Open, has challenged in court the decision of the authorities to refuse him entry. During an initial hearing Thursday, a government lawyer said the deportation would not come until another hearing scheduled for Monday.
Djokovic’s incredible trip “Down Under” sparked a diplomatic mishap, with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accusing Australia of “mistreating” the champion.
A handful of supporters gathered outside the Melbourne hotel where the world No. 1 is believed to be held on Thursday, demanding his release.
“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, with Australian Customs explaining that “Mr. Djokovic did not provide the correct information to enter Australia” and that “foreign nationals who do not have a valid visa or whose visa has been canceled will be detained and deported from Australia “.
The fate reserved for “Djoko” has gone badly on the side of Serbia. Its president Aleksandar Vucic, claiming to have spoken to the world No.1 on the phone, 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 player world tennis tournament ceases as soon as possible “.
– “In the first plane” –
Djokovic was already in the crosshairs of the Australian political class after the announcement of his medical exemption to participate in the Australian Open (January 17-30).
If the evidence to support this waiver is “insufficient”, then Djokovic “will not be treated any differently from anyone else, and he will return home by the first plane,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had warned.
Spanish champion Rafael Nadal, who contracted Covid last month despite two doses of the vaccine, expressed little sympathy for his Serbian competitor.
“If you get 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 “has made his own decisions, and everyone is free to make their own decisions, but then there are consequences,” he added.
Already a winner of 20 Grand Slams, like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic was aiming for a record-breaking 21st title at the Australian Open, a tournament he has won nine times.
– Against compulsory vaccination –
For months, “Nole” had cast doubt on his participation because of the obligation to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter Australia.
Djokovic spoke in April 2020 against compulsory vaccination, then considered to allow the resumption of tournaments. “Personally, I am not for vaccines. I would not like someone forcing me to be vaccinated to travel,” he said at the time.
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 five specific cases (having contracted the Covid in the previous six months, serious medical contraindication …) but the federation, invoking medical confidentiality, refused to say which applied to Djokovic.
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.
“This is not the most ordinary trip + Down Under +,” commented the former Wimbledon champion.