The controversy over the Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic doesn’t seem to come to an end. After being embroiled in the visa cancellation issue and subsequent detention in Australia, now the player is in the dock again for giving an interview to a journalist when he was Covid-19 positive.
In a statement, Djokovic admitted that he made a mistake by doing a photoshoot and an interview for French newspaper L’ Equippe when he was Covid-19 positive. The interview was conducted despite Djokovic knowing he was Covid-19 positive, but asymptomatic.
STATEMENT BY NOVAK DJOKOVIC12 January 2022https://t.co/qhreHUYlQ8— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 12, 2022
The Australian Tennis Association exempts any player from submitting proof of vaccination if the player has contracted the virus in the last six months. Djokovic mentioned that he tested positive for the virus on December 16, 2021, and therefore was granted an exception by Tennis Australia.
However, the Australian Border Force cancelled his visa upon arrival in Australia on January 6, 2022. This was overturned by an Australian court on January 10 which set him free from detention.
Here’s a breakdown of the case in 5 points
1. WHY DID NOVAK WIN?
Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation was overturned on January 10, 2022 by the Australian Federal Circuit Court because the jury felt that the decision to cancel his visa by the immigration authorities was wrong. His visa was revoked all of a sudden on January 6, 2022, after a midnight drama, and Djokovic was taken into detention.
Djokovic’s lawyers placed a string of seven legal grounds including ''exercise to power" and won the case on their client’s behalf on the common principles of “procedural fairness” and “legal unreasonableness."
The defense lawyers conceded to the judgment because they knew that the Australian Border Force officials had rushed the cancellation of Djokovic's visa on loose grounds on the morning of January 6. The tennis star was neither allowed to speak with his lawyers nor give a proper reply.
Judge Anthony Kelly was reported to be frustrated with the treatment meted out to Djokovic by the immigration authorities and he expressed his displeasure on this. He said that a person sitting in the shoes of Mr. Djokovic is not going to care about the hundreds of provisions in the migration act.
2. WILL NOVAK BE DEPORTED?
The Australian judge quashed the order of the immigration authorities and Djokovic was set free to enter Australia. However, a thread of suspicion hangs around his status: Will he play or will he will be deported?
Since the Australian people have strong sentiments against his anti-vaccine stand, there are chances that he might be deported out of the country by Immigration officer Alex Hawkey, who might exercise his special powers.
Hawkey can cancel Djokovic’s visa under his personal power of cancellation citing section 133C(3) of the Migration Act. The minister is currently considering the case and a decision is yet to come.
Djokovic’s information on his immigration form has also turned out to be false. His claim not to have travelled anywhere for 14 days before landing in Australia has been disputed, as he was seen in Serbia and Spain in December. Officially, he had to be in Spain for 14 days, the place of his departure, which in his case stands false.
Though he admitted in an official statement about the error, blaming his agent, he also said that he had provided clarity on the matter to the Australian authorities.
Djokovic’s unvaccinated status and the false information on his immigration form could be used as reasons for deportation. The minister is said to decide on this issue by Monday, January 17, 2022.
3. WHEN WILL DJOKOVIC PLAY?
Serbian Tennis player Novak Djokovic. Photo: Getty Images
The Serbian tennis star is aiming to win the 21st Grand slam title for the 10th time, one ahead of each of his rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Though Djokovic has hit the practice ahead of his grand slam title match, the cloud over his participation in the game needs to be cleared.
An official decision of Immigration minister Alex Hawke is awaited which might come by tomorrow. If the decision goes against the tennis player, he might be barred from entering Australia for the next three years, let alone compete in the tournament. By then, the 34-year-old player will also retire from the game.
4. WHEN WAS DJOKOVIC IN SPAIN?
According to the documents submitted to the Australian authorities on whether the player had travelled to any other country, 14 days prior to visiting Australia, the tennis player had submitted his reply as 'no'. But his social media posts showed that he was in Belgrade, Serbia on December 25th and in Spain on December 31st. Here's a video of him playing tennis on street with kids in Belgrade, Serbia.
Here's a video of him practicing at Soto Tennis Academy in Spain on December 31, 2021.
However, the Spanish government has denied any knowledge of the player being in the country in the last few days. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said that he does not have any information on whether the tennis star visited Spain before flying to Australia.
Djokovic had cited Covid-19 infection detected on December 16, 2021 as a reason for vaccine exemption, but his social media posts showed that he attended an event that day. Moreover, he was spotted attending a children's award ceremony at the Novak Tennis Academy.
5. WHY DID MORRISON PICK A FIGHT WITH DJOKOVIC?
Serbian Tennis player Novak Djokovic (left) and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right). Photo: Getty Images
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has locked horns with the Serbian vaccine-skeptic tennis star ever since the controversy began. The center-right PM made no bones when he said that, "No one," is above these rules.
The Australian PM asserted, “When you get people making public statements, of what they say they have and what they are going to do and what their claims are, they draw significant attention to themselves.”
The case now seems to be more politically driven because allowing Djokovic in the Australian Open on January 17, would also mean going against the sentiments of the people, who are largely against Djokovic’s anti-vaccine stand. Moreover, Melbourne, which witnesses the Australian Open, had seen one of the toughest lockdowns, where residents had to stay locked for more than 260 days.