January 20, 2022

Australian Open: we summarize the match between Novak Djokovic and the authorities in ten rounds


It will now be time to call it Djokogate. The total imbroglio between Novak Djokovic and the Australian authorities, against a backdrop of non-vaccination with Covid and politico-sporting disagreement, has just offered the first major soap opera of the sports year 2022.

Less than two days from the start of the Melbourne Major, its defending champion has been the main actor in a funny vaudeville for more than ten days. Monday, January 10, following the hearing which ruled on the appeal filed by the Serbian player, his visa is no longer canceled and the world number 1 is released. But, four days later, the immigration minister again canceled the Serb’s visa. franceinfo: sport looks back on the case in ten dates.

1November 20, 2021, the decision: Australian Open participants will have to be vaccinated

Bad day for Novak Djokovic. The Serb has just been eliminated in the semi-finals of the Masters at the end of the season in Turin by the German Alexander Zverev. At the antipodes, thousands of kilometers away, another bad news has darkened the horizon of the world number one. Craig Tiley, director of the Australian Open, lifts the veil on the conditions for participation in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, while the Covid-19 is still harsh in Australia. To be in the Melbourne Major, participants will need to be vaccinated.

“There is a lot of speculation about vaccination and just to be perfectly clear, when the Premier of Victoria announced that everyone at the venue needed to be vaccinated, we let the players know. “, assures Craig Tiley. Djokovic, who has announced several times his skepticism about vaccination, even his frank reluctance for it to become compulsory, takes the hit. “I was waiting for specific information. Now that I know, we’ll just wait. We’ll see, we’ll just wait and see.”

Craig Tiley speaks during a press conference on February 12, 2021. (SAEED KHAN / AFP)

2November 28, 2021, the blow of pressure: the father of Djokovic advances the absence of the world number one in Melbourne

Srdjan Djokovic is not the type to hide his feelings and keep his opinion to himself. The father of the world number one reacts to the latest announcements from the bosses of the Australian Open to the Serbian channel Prva TV, and evokes the possible withdrawal of his son.

“Of course he would like with all his heart to go there, because he is a sportsman and because there are many of our compatriots there, the diaspora, who would be delighted to see Novak. But I don’t know. really not if it will happen. He probably won’t go under these conditions.” Srdjan Djokovic directly challenges Craig Tiley and Tennis Australia, calling their decision a “blackmail”. The tone rises, the uncertainty with.

3January 4, 2022, the exemption: Novak Djokovic announces his departure for Australia

At the start of 2022, the presence of Novak Djokovic on the southern courts is still not guaranteed. The Serb has still not communicated his vaccination status. And on December 29, his package for the ATP Cup, the first meeting of the season in Australia, sows a little more doubt about whether or not he will come to Melbourne.

We have to wait another week, and when almost the entire circuit is already on the island, to see the photo of a smiling Djokovic on the tarmac appear on Instagram. “I’m heading for Down Under, an exemption permit”, writes the 34-year-old. The question then arises of this derogation from the strictly supervised vaccination obligation (five possible cases including contamination with Covid-19 in the last six months, side effects from a first dose, or a recent major health problem). The Australian Open then assures that it has been the subject of a “rigorous review process involving two independent panels of medical experts“. At the end of November, its director Craig Tiley assured that only a “low percentage“ of the participants would benefit from these exemptions. Everything then seems settled: Djokovic is authorized to return to the country.

4January 5, 2022, 6:00 a.m., the protest: Australian leaders demand accountability

While Novak Djokovic is on the plane, in Australia, anger is brewing. The population and the journalists on the spot are wondering, even indignant at the decision to authorize the player to arrive on the territory. While he had explained until then to be quite powerless in the face of the medical secrecy surrounding the file, Craig Tiley returns to the podium. And in charge.

“It would certainly be helpful if Novak explained the conditions under which he requested and obtained an exemption., he told the media. I encourage him to talk about this to the community. We’ve been through a very difficult time over the past two years and I would appreciate some answers.”

The case takes on another dimension and reaches the political sphere. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is following in Tiley’s footsteps, and going even further. “We await his presentation and that he provide us with evidence to support his exemption,” he said at a press conference. “If this evidence is insufficient, then he will not be treated differently from anyone else, and he will return home on the first plane. There will be no special rules for Novak Djokovic. Not the slightest.”

5January 5, 2022, 2:00 p.m., confusion: Djokovic is blocked at the airport for a visa problem

Just over two hours after arriving at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, Novak Djokovic has still not left the enclosure. The Age, serious Australian media reveals that the Serb is blocked at customs for a visa problem. His teams would not have made the right request to go with his exemption.

The information is confirmed by Jaala Pulford, member of the government of the State of Victoria. The Minister of Employment explains on Twitter that the Victorian state will not provide a visa to the Serb, as requested by the Australian federal state, and sends the ball back to the baseline. Pulford, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s political opponent, argues that issuing visas is an Australian state responsibility, not Victoria’s.

Anything but trivial in the middle of the electoral campaign, in view of the federal elections of 2022, and while the fight between the conservative coalition in power and the Labor party promises to be very tight according to the latest polls.

6January 5, 2022, 10:20 p.m., the sanction: visa withdrawn and expulsion to come for Djokovic

Australia is barely getting up (it is just 8 a.m. in Melbourne) but the authorities have slept little, working on the Djokovic case. The federal government, through its Minister of Health Greg Hunt, is firm. The Serbian’s visa has been withdrawn, so he is no longer authorized to stay on Australian soil and will be expelled as soon as possible.

“Mr. Djokovic did not provide the appropriate elements to enter Australia, confirms Home Affairs, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Foreign nationals who do not have a valid visa or whose visa has been canceled will be detained and deported from Australia.”. Already electric, the climate becomes hot, and the Serbian president evokes a “bad treatment” of his champion.

7January 6, 7 a.m., the challenge: Djokovic appeals and gets time

After immediately appealing the decision, the tennis player remains locked up with Australian customs without knowing what his next hours will be like. The decision does not come until the end of the day in Melbourne, the Commonwealth government explains that the appeal hearing has been postponed. Novak Djokovic can therefore stay in Australia until this, scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m. local time, at midnight on the night of Sunday to Monday in France. Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia, talks about “a political hunt“against his compatriot.

The player is currently staying in a quarantine center for refugees in the Australian city. His team has until Saturday to provide evidence of the merits of the exemption and the visa that has been withdrawn. The possible last episode of a health affair which turned into psychodrama. As the media The Age reminds us, Djokovic would risk up to three years of inadmissibility if his visa was withdrawn, and he had thus entered the country illegally.

8January 8, the explanations: his lawyers invoke a Covid-19 infection

New twist, Saturday morning: in a document filed with the federal court, the Serb’s lawyers claimed that the latter had contracted Covid-19. “The date of the first positive Covid PCR test was recorded on December 16, 2021″, they claimed in this document. This data would thus justify the medical exemption requested by Djokovic. The Djoker never communicated on this subject.

Placed in a detention center in Melbourne, the world number 1 asked to be transferred from this center to train for the Australian Open. His attorneys have filed a motion to that effect in federal court.

9January 10, the (temporary) release: a judge cancels the suspension of the visa

What more could this man have done?“By saying this during the proceedings concerning the appeal of Novak Djokovic, Judge Anthony Kelly left no room for mystery: he decided to order his release within half an hour after the judgment. His passport and its effects personnel must also be returned to him.But the Ministry of Immigration still has the possibility, despite this decision, of deporting the world No. 1 by using its personal power.

10January 14, the intervention: the Minister of Immigration cancels his visa again and the judge relinquishes the case

Four days after the judgment, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced on Friday, January 14, the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa “for reasons of health and good order, on the grounds that it was in the public interest to do so because of the public interest”. Immediately, his lawyers filed a new injunction against this decision.

In the process, Judge Anthony Kelly, who had allowed the release of the Serb on Monday, convened an emergency hearing on Friday evening. At the end of this, which was interrupted several times, the judge Kelly suspended the expulsion of Djokovic, the time to examine his appeal and notified his lawyers that they must file a formal request against the cancellation of the visa as soon as possible.

A second hearing will be held on Sunday before the Australian Federal Court. The judge of the Australian State of Victoria Anthony Kelly has indeed announced, at the end of the hearing, to relinquish the case. This new development could have the effect of delaying the outcome of this case. The schedule promises to be tight as Djokovic is due to make his Australian Open debut on Monday (January 17th) against his compatriot Miomir Kecmanović.

Finally, the Australian authorities intend to order the return of the world number one in tennis Novak Djokovic in detention as of Saturday morning, announced Friday a government lawyer, Stephen Lloyd. A decision which would imply that the Serb could no longer train. Since Friday January 14, the future has darkened again for “Nole”, who could be deprived of any participation in the Australian Open (January 17-30), where he was aiming for a 21st Grand Slam title. .



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