Follow all the latest developments after men’s world No1 and defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic had his visa revoked at a Melbourne airport
Djokovic, who travelled to Australia under the assumption he had been granted a “medical exemption”, despite refusing to confirm his vaccination status, was held by the Australian Border Force (ABF) for around ten hours at Tullamarine airport on Wednesday before being transferred to the Park hotel in the suburb of Carlton. The Serbian immediately lodged an appeal against the ABF’s decision to rescind his visa but the nine-time open d'Australie champion could face up to a three-year ban from the country if he fails to win his case.
The Victorian government and Tennis Australia had appeared to assure Djokovic that he was free to enter the country and defend his title, but a fierce wave of public backlash led to political intervention. Some have accused Australia’s government of using the tennis star as a political pawn to distract from the country’s own Covid problems, pourtant, home affairs minister Karen Andrews insisted Djokovic was not being “held captive” and is “free to leave at any time”. Another player, Renata Voracova, was subsequently detained by the ABF after entering the country under the same exemption as Djokovic, despite having already competed in a warm-up event in Melbourne.
Follow all the latest news below.
What does Djokovic think about vaccines?
En avril 2020 Djokovic said that he was opposed to vaccines. He later clarified that he was “no expert” but that he wanted to explore other options. During a Facebook event he said he “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine” to travel to tournaments, and that he was “curious about wellbeing and how we can empower our metabolism to be in the best shape to defend against imposters like Covid-19.”
Djokovic has previous when it comes to questionable science. He has claimed before the positivity can cleanse water, en disant: “Scientists have proven that molecules in water react to our emotions.” He also wrote in his book that a doctor highlighted weakness in his arm while holding a loaf of bread which was supposedly evidence of a gluten intolerance. His wife Jelena was hit with a misinformation tag on Instagram after posting a 5G conspiracy theory.
Djokovic treated ‘like a felon’ in ‘extraordinary scandal’
Former Yugoslavia Davis Cup coach Radmilo Armenulic said Novak Djokovic had been treated “like a felon” and described the situation as an “extraordinary scandal.”
“They detained him under police presence. He was held in a room for eight hours after he was cleared to take part in the Australian Open by the medical panel,” Armenulic told Reuters.
“This decision, À mon avis, reflects lawlessness and not the rule of law. They have treated Novak like a criminal and a villain to stop him from winning his 21st Grand Slam.”
Djokovic’s mother calls situation over rescinded visa ‘not human’
Novak Djokovic’s mother Dijana has called her son’s situation over a rescinded visa “not human”.
“I feel terrible since yesterday that they are keeping him as a prisoner. It’s not fair. It’s not human. I hope that he will win,” said Djokovic’s mother.
She also confirmed that she had spoken with him briefly by telephone from Belgrade. Elle a ajouté: “Terrible, terrible accommodation. It’s just some small immigration hotel, if it’s hotel at all.”
Toni Nadal sends message to Djokovic
Rafael Nadal’s uncle and trainer Toni Nadal has joined the debate over Novak Djokovic, admitting he is surprised that the Serbian is not vaccinated yet after attempting to play the Australian Open.
“I must admit that until Tuesday’s announcement, I thought that the Serbian player would give up participating in the tournament , or that the vaccine would be inoculated,” Toni Nadal says in his El Pais column.
“There are almost six million people who have lost their lives due to this damn virus and many other millions who have received the vaccine.
“I want to think that Novak is no stranger to all this and that he will clear the doubts as a sign of human sensitivity and understanding.”
PM: Djokovic alerted himself to authorities with statement
“One of the things that the Border Force does… is act on intelligence to direct their attention to potential arrivals,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Sky Sports News.
“When you get people making public statements about what they say they have and what they are going to do and what their claims are, they draw significant attention to themselves.
“Anyone who does that, whether they’re a celebrity, a politician, a tennis player, a journalist, whoever does that, they can expect to be asked questions more than others before you come.”
Medvedev: Djokovic decision ‘very tough in real life’
US Open champion Daniil Medvedev has resisted the opportunity to take sides in the debate over Novak Djokovic’s visa situation ahead of the Australian Open.
The Russian will be bumped up to the No 1 seed if Djokovic pulls out due to visa issues and maintains he is merely focusing on himself right now.
“If he had a fair exemption from the rule, bien, he should be here; if he didn’t, he shouldn’t be here,” Medvedev said.
“It sounds easy, but it seems very tough in real life, and I don’t know the insides of the story, so that’s why I’m just focusing on myself.”
Djokovic denied access to personal chef – rapports
Novak Djokovic’s requests for access to his personal chef and a tennis court have been rejected by Australian authorities, selon les rapports.
The Australian said officials have remained adamant that the world No 1 will be denied access to any preferential treatment during the course of his stay at the Park Hotel in Melbourne.
Djokovic was also unable to celebrate Orthodox Christmas on Friday, with a priest from the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Melbourne said to have been turned away.
Australian tennis chief praises team for Djokovic response
Craig Tiley, the boss of Tennis Australia, has praised his organisation for the work they have done in Novak Djokovic’s case as the tennis star awaits the outcome of his appeal.
There has been criticism aimed everywhere it seems, from toward Djokovic and his team, to the organisers’ earlier claims that he’d be allowed in and even toward the country’s visa process, but a leaked video reported by the Sunday Herald Sun paper in Australia shows Tiley rejected the accusations that Tennis Australia had mislead players over what was necessary to gain entry for the Australian Open.
“There is a lot finger pointing going on… but I can assure you our team has done an unbelievable job," il mentionné.
Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka pulls out of warm-up tournament
Naomi Osaka has withdrawn with an injury from her semi-final at the Melbourne Summer Set as she prepares to defend her Australian Open title.
In a statement issued by Tennis Australia Osaka said: “I had a lot of fun playing here in Melbourne. Unfortunately I have an abdominal injury which I need to rest and prepare for the Australian Open.”
Later on Twitter Osaka posted: “Sad to withdraw due to injury from my match today, my body got a shock from playing back to back intense matches after the break I took. I’ll try to rest up and I’ll see you soon!"
The four-time grand slam winner took a break from playing after losing to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of September’s US Open.
Following her winning return to action in Melbourne earlier in the week, Osaka said her main target for 2022 is to feel like she is “having fun” on the court.
Veronika Kudermetova had been due to face the Japanese world number 13 prior to the withdrawal, with the Russian now to take on Simona Halep in the final after the Romanian progressed with a straight-sets win over Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen.
Djokovic asks Serbian president to help him leave hotel
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has revealed that Novak Djokovic asked to be moved out of his immigration hotel and into rented accommodation.
TennisWorldUSA report the national leader explaining having been in contact with the tennis player and asking what he could do to help – but Australian immigration rules are preventing it happening.
“We did everything we could. Last night I talked to Novak for the first time, this morning for the second time, in accordance with the agreements we have, Ana Brnabic is just calling on the phone, praying and asking for one thing,” Vucic said.
“That before the final decision of the court on Monday, they allow Novak not to be in this infamous hotel, but in the house he rented. That is what Novak asked from his country, it is our obligation to protect our citizens. I talked to him last night and this morning, our ministry is involved.”