Tuesday, January 18

The chaos of Djokovic Day raises more questions than answers | Novak djokovic


TOA sleek black car rolled out of the doors of Hall & Wilcox’s law office on Collins Street and into the heart of Melbourne’s central business district; he was immediately surrounded by masses of people. The large Serbian community in Melbourne had been thrown into action for the previous four nights by Novak Djokovic’s continuing period of immigration detention and, as they gathered, they perfectly reflected the turmoil of the moment.

They loudly cheered for Djokovic’s release, but false rumors of a new arrest also quickly spread. Fans responded by chanting “Free Nole.” Some jumped on the roof of the car and others hit the window. They were only stopped by the tear gas sprayed by the police while dispersing them.

After four nights in detention, Novak Djokovic’s remarkable week of detention came to a swift and triumphant resolution. Now he is free, but not entirely. He won his hearing on Monday on procedural grounds due to the treatment he received by border force agents early in the morning upon arrival in Melbourne. His victory was the result of the judge, Anthony Kelly, deciding that the procedure to cancel Djokovic’s visa was not correct. The government still reserves the right to cancel your visa at another time and is considering whether to do so. “The stakes now have risen rather than receded,” Kelly said.

When Djokovic began his journey to Melbourne a week ago, Scott Morrison, the prime minister, spoke of the need to ensure that Djokovic is treated like anyone trying to enter Australia’s borders. In a sense, it was a mission well accomplished. As with immigrants trapped indefinitely in the hotel where Djokovic resided, his interview at the border provided useful information about how people are actually treated in such situations. Djokovic had arrived at Melbourne airport shortly before midnight and after numerous discussions, he was handed the “notice of intent” on canceling his visa just before 4 am.

Faced with the prospect of immediate deportation, Djokovic was given just 20 minutes to explain why he should be allowed into the country. When he politely told the Australian Border Force that he needed to speak to his lawyers and Tennis Australia, they first gave him until 8:30 am to respond before pressuring him to decide earlier. Believing there was no chance of any other outcome other than a canceled visa, Djokovic relented.

Djokovic is prominent and rich. There was always the possibility that he would appeal the visa cancellation and expose the interview process. So many people in a similarly awkward position cannot afford to hire a team of attorneys to dissect those procedural evils. It is an important insight and case study on how immigration authorities are to ordinary people and how defenseless most people are when at the mercy of the border force.

Relatives of Novak Djokovic (left to right), his uncle Goran, his mother Dijana, his father Srdjan and his brother Djordje, meet during a press conference in Belgrade on Monday.
Relatives of Novak Djokovic (left to right), his uncle Goran, his mother Dijana, his father Srdjan and his brother Djordje, meet during a press conference in Belgrade on Monday. Photograph: Pedja Milosavljevic / AFP / Getty Images

With Djokovic’s hearing focused almost entirely on procedural details during that first meeting with the border force, much remains to be resolved and the number of questions that remain to be answered has only multiplied. After court documents released over the weekend indicated that Djokovic had tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16, Djokovic’s interview and PCR test certificate confirmed this.

The reason Djokovic was able to acquire his waiver for Melbourne was due to the positive test result for Covid-19 on December 16, determined on the same day. However, Djokovic was seen by Serbia at events in the days after that date. L’Equipe reports that he was interviewed and given a photoshoot on December 18, two days after the date of his test.

Djokovic knew he was infected but still continued to spread the virus, did not know about his result for two days after his positive test or there are questions to ask about the test itself. When asked about his older brother’s public appearances during the Djokovic family press conference, Djordje Djokovic, Novak’s younger brother, immediately cut the interview: “Okay then, this press conference is suspended.” , He said.

Either way, it seems likely that Djokovic looked for a loophole that would allow him to compete in Australia without getting vaccinated and, in the end, he found it. The initial deadline for players to submit their medical exemptions was a week before Djokovic’s test, but Djokovic was still able to acquire an exemption from Tennis Australia and the Victorian government.

Novak Djokovic posted this photo after he was released from Melbourne detention and returned to training.
Djokovic posted this photo after he was released from his Melbourne detention and went back to training. Photography: @DjokerNole

While Djokovic has made some questionable decisions, he has earned sympathy for the situation where he encountered an overzealous border force. Similarly, Tennis Australia’s job should have been to make it clear how inadvisable it would be to travel to Australia without being vaccinated or without having a genuine undisclosed medical problem.

As Djokovic returns to training, he has generated a whole new fan base after becoming a cause notorious for anti-vaccines and far-right figures, including Nigel Farage, who flew to Serbia and was invited in by his brother. to Djokovic’s restaurant. Djokovic will have the opportunity to hug them or distance himself.

At the end of a long day, Djokovic announced on social media that he had returned to practice for the first time in more than a week and trained at the Rod Laver Arena. “Despite everything that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete in the Australian Open,” he said. “I’m still focused on that. I flew here to play one of the biggest events we have in front of the amazing fans. “

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Although he anticipated next week, his status is still up in the air. It remains to be seen if the Australian federal government will take another bite and wield those powers to deport you, which could mean that you will not be allowed to re-enter for three years.

If he can compete, he will try to play. If he can stay in Melbourne for as long as it lasts, it seems likely that, even without an ideal amount of practice, he will channel his frustrations into competing for his 21st Grand Slam title and his 10th Australian Open title. It could be extremely difficult to beat. It remains to be seen if he will remain in the country next Monday.


www.theguardian.com

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