It has been almost a week of twists and turns, drama and delay, for world number one Tennis player, Novak Djokovic, his fans, and the global tennis world.
His participation in the 2022 Australian Open which begins on January 17, 2022, is in doubt with the Australian authorities as his biggest obstacle.
The tennis tournament called the Australian Open is held annually during the last two weeks of January at Melbourne Park in Australia. Typically, the tournament is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events (French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open) events held every year.
It all started when the Serbian flew to Australia on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, to begin his preparations for the Australian Open having been granted a medical exemption by the organisers.
To the amazement of many, Djokic’s visa was canceled by Australian border officials indicating that his exemption might not be enough to grant him access to the competition without vaccination. Apparently, he did not qualify for an exemption to an entry requirement that required all non-citizens to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison pointed out that Djokovic will get the same treatment as anyone else. He emphasized that rules are rules. “We will continue to make the right decisions when it comes to securing Australian borders in relation to this pandemic”, Morrison said.
This development saw the 39-year-old spending four nights in an Australian immigration detention hotel (alongside refugees and asylum seekers) with no access to his personal chef which he had specifically requested.
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Djokovic Pleads his Case
The move by the Australian authorities has led to an appeal by Djokovic’s team. There is an exemption for entering Australia if you have tested positive for Coronavirus in the past six months.
This is the exemption that Djokovic claims he meets. He was found to have coronavirus at the Adria Tour – a tournament that he organised himself in the Balkans in June 2020. The star player’s lawyers further revealed that he tested positive for the virus in December 2021 and recovered.
His team also holds that his exemption was granted by two independent panels, thus, he’s in the clear to enter Australia to chase his 21st grand slam singles title.
The case was scheduled for a virtual hearing at 10 a.m. local time in Melbourne (2300 GMT Sunday) in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on January 10, 2021.
According to the Australian media, the federal government had bid for more time to prepare its case against Djokovic and adjournment of the final hearing by two days (which will mean five days from the kick-off of the Australian Open). However, the court refused the application and the case resumed on Monday as planned.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Star Tennis player, Novak Djokovic has won an appeal to overturn the government’s cancellation of his visa. Federal Court Judge Anthony Kelly ruled that the 34-year-old be released from detention at Melbourne’s Park Hotel before 6 P.M on Monday, January 9, 2021.
Djokovic had challenged the decision of the Australian Government to cancel his visa after claiming that the number one tennis player entered the country with out-of-date ATAGI advice, and won.
This means the Serbian player is free to play in the Australian Open.
The stumbling stone
However, is the storm over for Djokovic? NO. There is one last option for the Australian government: the immigration minister may still intervene and ban him on new grounds.
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