Novak Djokovic was integrated Thursday in the table of the Australian Open, but the legal standoff over his visa continues and the world No. 1 tennis player, unvaccinated, remains under the threat of deportation.
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The 34-year-old Serbian’s hopes of winning a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title have been threatened more than ever, since he admitted to making “mistakes” in his behavior after testing positive for OVID-19 in December and August. completing their entry form to Australia.
Provided he is not sent off, he will face his fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic (78th) in the first round of the Australian Open, according to the draw made on Thursday more than an hour late.
Organizers did not say whether the delay was due to uncertainties over Djokovic’s fate, as the government plans for the second time to cancel his visa.
A first cancellation of this precious sesame by the authorities was revoked on January 10 by an Australian judge, a decision which caused a stir.
On Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said no decision has yet been taken on a possible visa cancellation and expulsion of the player.
The position of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who said he was considering an annulment under his discretionary powers, “has not changed,” Morrison added during a press conference .
He recalled that the decision was in the hands of the minister, before declining to any other comment.
The director of the Australian Open and president of the Australian Federation Craig Tiley, one of the main actors in the Djokovic fiasco, refused to answer journalists’ questions after the draw.
“It is beyond my understanding”
According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, a government official claimed that allowing Djokovic to stay in Australia without being vaccinated against the coronavirus would set a dangerous precedent.
This source allegedly said that a cancellation of the visa would be in line with the efforts made by the island-continent for months to fight against the spread of the virus.
The legal battle that the government is waging in this affair is of a political nature in this country, which is among those to have experienced some of the most draconian restrictions on the planet, and four months away from general elections.
“Australian policy is not to allow unvaccinated people to enter its territory. How did we get there is beyond my comprehension, ”Labor opposition leader Anthony Albanese said on Thursday. “How is it that Novak Djokovic was able to come here?”
The government of the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, which hosts the Australian Open, also announced on Thursday that public reception capacity will be limited to 50% due to an increase in the number of COVID cases. -19 and hospitalizations in the region.
“Error of judgment”
The player arrived in Melbourne on January 5, claiming a COVID-19 vaccination exemption due to a positive test dated December 16.
Immigration officials rejected this waiver request, stating that a recent infection was insufficient reason. They canceled his visa and the player was placed in a detention center.
But Djokovic’s legal team succeeded in having this decision overturned on January 10 by a court, on a procedural issue related to his questioning at the airport.
On Instagram, the world No. 1 on Wednesday admitted “errors” for not having respected the isolation rules in Serbia after his contamination and having incorrectly completed his entry form in Australia.
The player with twenty major titles assured to have carried out two negative antigenic tests before events in public on December 16 and 17 in Belgrade.
On the other hand, he recognizes an “error of judgment”, when he received, knowing that he was asymptomatic, the French daily L’Équipe for an interview on December 18.
Djokovic also pleads “human error” to explain how a wrong box in his entry form was checked.
This document, widely circulated by the Australian media, shows that he testified that he had not traveled in the 14 days preceding his arrival. However, he was in Serbia and then in Spain.