Australia has again canceled Novak Djokovic’s visa and plans to deport him. The Serbian refuses to be vaccinated against the Corona virus, and therefore the Australian government refuses to allow him to be on its soil. His only hope of defending his Australian Open title is to defy the decision.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke exercised his personal power to revoke Novak Djokovic’s visa. The reason is to maintain health and order on the grounds that it is in the public interest. In making this decision, I carefully considered the information provided to me by the Home Office, Australian Border Patrol and Mr Djokovic.”
Djokovic’s lawyers are preparing to immediately file a preliminary injunction against the decision. The Australian Open starts on Monday. So time is running out for the defending Serbian champion. If he does not appeal the decision or does not do so, he will be immediately expelled from the country. The Serbian tennis player has already been included in the draw for the Australian Open. He was going to meet fellow countryman Miomir Kekmanovic (ATP 78) in the first round, but that wouldn’t be the same now. Djokovic was chasing his 21st Grand Slam win in Melbourne, making him the record holder.
Djokovic had his visa withdrawn from customs last week upon his arrival in Australia due to problems with the medical exemption he had obtained for entering the country without a vaccination certificate. However, the judge overturned that decision.
Not surprisingly, the minister’s decision to cancel the visa took so long. It’s part of the tactical duel: don’t make the decision too early so that Djokovic doesn’t have much time to challenge the decision before the Australian Open begins. After all, the world’s number one lawyers want to appeal if he has to leave. They hope to be heard this weekend, and have everything finished by Sunday at the latest – although the chances of him staying are not very high.
Australian Open organizers hope to already know on Thursday if they can allow the record-winner to play. So the draw was postponed for a while, but in the end they had no choice but to let the party go ahead. Thus, Djokovic is tentatively scheduled to play his first round against fellow Serbian Miomir Kikmanovic. Meanwhile, Djokovic made use of the lost time he had to sit in the “Corona Hotel”: he trained with Argentine Federico Correa and young Australian Tristan Scholkat, among others.
Opinions are divided
In any case, Djoko splits opinions, even among fellow ATP players. Stefanos Tsitsipas, world number four against Eurosport: “Every tennis player knows very well what protocols and rules apply in Melbourne. A small part follows their own rules, which makes the rest feel embarrassed. It is dangerous to break the rules like that and risk participating in a Grand Slam” . (hjb)