The world tennis number one, Novak Djokovic, has been detained since Thursday morning January 6 in a Melbourne hotel which also serves as a detention center for asylum seekers. His visa was canceled after he “Failed to provide appropriate evidence” to enter the island-continent, said in the morning, the Minister of Health, Greg Hunt. But the athlete, who had filed a lawsuit against this decision, will not be expelled before Monday, the date of a new hearing to rule on his situation, said a government lawyer, Christopher Tran. The Serb had arrived there the night before.
Only people with a complete vaccination schedule are allowed to cross the country’s borders. On Tuesday, the athlete had obtained a “medical exemption” within the framework of the Australian Open, which is to be held from January 17 to 30 in Melbourne, in the state of Victoria. But the criteria adopted by the two panels of medical experts – established by the Australian Tennis Federation and by the Victoria Department of Health to examine the exemption requests submitted by players in order to be able to participate in the competition – were not not the same as those of the federal authorities responsible for borders.
“The rules are the rules”
In this case, Novak Djokovic is supported by Serbia. “In accordance with all the norms of public international law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and for truth”, thundered, in the morning, the President of the Republic, Aleksandar Vucic, who accused Australia of ” bullying “. Critics immediately rejected by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “Rules are rules, and especially when it comes to borders”, hammered the elected conservative, before specifying that his government had informed, in November 2021, the organizers of the Open that contamination with Covid-19 in the six months preceding the competition could not justify obtaining a exemption. According to the Australian media, it is however this criterion which would have allowed the tennis player to receive a pass.
Anyway, voices were quickly raised to denounce a “political” decision to which Novak Djokovic would be a victim, notoriously hostile to vaccination. If the star of the circuit was not the only player to benefit from a waiver, he would be the only one to have been stranded at the border. Tuesday, the announcement of his arrival, after several weeks of uncertainty and controversy, had provoked the ire of Australians.
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Novak Djokovic threatened with deportation by Australian authorities