After seeing his visa canceled by the Australian authorities due to his vaccination status, world tennis star Novak Djokovic returned to administrative detention on Saturday. A new episode that seriously compromises his participation in the Australian Open on Monday.
Back through the detention box for Novak Djokovic. The world number one in tennis was returned to administrative detention on Saturday January 15 in Melbourne after the cancellation of his visa for the second time by the Australian government. The country’s authorities maintain that the player who has not been vaccinated against Covid-19 constitutes a public danger.
This new twist in a saga that began on January 5, when Djokovic was turned away upon his arrival in Melbourne, makes it increasingly unlikely that the 34-year-old Serb will participate in the Australian Open, which starts on Monday. Novak Djokovic is seeking a 10th victory in this tournament, which would constitute a record 21st Grand Slam title.
On Saturday, Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal lashed out at his rival, saying « the Australian Open is far more important than any player », while saying he « disagrees with a lot of things he’s been up to for the past two weeks. »
Accused of « triggering an upsurge in civil unrest »
A few hours earlier, the Minister of Immigration, Alex Hawke had estimated in a document presented to justice that the presence in Australia of Djokovic “could encourage anti-vaccination sentiment” and “trigger an upsurge in civil unrest”.
The unvaccinated Serbian player had entered the country thinking he would get a waiver after contracting Covid-19 in December. The champion is also accused of not having respected the rules of isolation and of having crowded, after having tested positive in December and knowingly.
According to court documents, Novak Djokovic, who had been summoned in the morning by the immigration services, was on Saturday in a detention center in Melbourne awaiting a judicial decision on his case.
Referral hearings are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in federal court, and authorities said Friday night that they would not expel the tennis player from Australia until the judges have ruled.
The player is only authorized to leave the detention center to follow, online, the legal hearings concerning him from the offices of his lawyers, and under the surveillance of border police officers.
Djokovic faces a three-year ban from entering Australia
This is the second time the Australian government has attempted to oust Djokovic from the country. Also for the star, the dreams of a 10th title in Melbourne are all the more distant as this visa cancellation, if confirmed by justice, implies that Djokovic will be banned from entering the country for three years, except in exceptional circumstances.
This twisty soap opera around the tennis champion takes place in a country whose inhabitants have endured for almost two years some of the strictest anti-Covid restrictions in the world, and where elections are scheduled for May. Hence a charged political context. Pressure has intensified around Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accused of « incompetence » by the Labor opposition.