Djokovic in limbo as his lawyers fight to overturn Australia’s entry ban

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic was refused entry to Australia on Thursday amid a storm of protests over a decision to grant him a medical exemption https: //www.reuters. com / lifestyle / sports / djokovic-will-defend-australian-open-title-after-exemption-vaccination-2022-01-04 from COVID-19 vaccination requirements to play at the Australian Open.

The tennis star remained in Australia after his lawyers appealed to have the federal government’s decision overturned. A court agreed not to deport him until a full hearing scheduled for Monday, leaving the Serbian champion locked in a quarantine hotel https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/hearing-gives-djokovic-least-another -72 -hours-melbourne-2022-01-06 in Melbourne for at least the next 72 hours.

The saga, fueled by the national political tally on the country’s handling of a record increase in new COVID-19 infections, has led to an international row, with the Serbian president saying his country’s most famous sportsman is being harassed .

“There are no specific cases, the rules are the rules,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a televised press briefing. “We will continue to make the right decisions when it comes to securing Australia’s borders from this pandemic. “

Spanish champion Rafael Nadal told reporters in Melbourne https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/nadal-sorry-djokovic-says-serb-knew-risks-2022-01-06 that he feels sorry for his rival “but at the same time he had known the conditions for many months. He makes his own decision.

Djokovic, who has consistently refused to disclose his vaccine status while publicly criticizing mandatory vaccines, sparked fury when he said on Instagram on Tuesday that he had received a medical exemption to claim a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam victory in the ‘Open from January 1st. 17.

The announcement sparked an uproar in Australia, particularly in tournament host city Melbourne, which suffered the world’s longest cumulative lockdown to ward off the coronavirus.

“NOVAK IS SPARTAQUE”

The Australian government’s decision to block Djokovic’s entry has caused a stir between Canberra and Belgrade.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Twitter that he spoke with Djokovic, reassured “that all of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to ensure that the harassment of the best tennis player in the world ends immediately”. .

Morrison said he was aware that “representations had been made” by the Serbian embassy in Canberra and denied the harassment allegations.

Djokovic’s father told media in Serbia that his son was brought into a police-guarded isolation room when he landed at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport at around 11:30 p.m. (12:30 GMT) Wednesday after a 2 p.m. flight from Dubai.

“They can jail him tonight and chain him tomorrow, but the truth is like water because it always finds its way,” said Srdjan Djokovic, in comments quoted on the Telegraf newspaper website. “Novak is the Spartacus of the new world who does not tolerate injustice, colonialism and hypocrisy.”

In a hearing at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on Thursday evening, lawyers for Djokovic and the government agreed the player can stay in the country until at least Monday.

Nick Wood, a lawyer for Djokovic, told Judge Anthony Kelly earlier that Tennis Australia had indicated that they were to be notified of his participation in the tournament by Tuesday.

In response, Kelly, who had asked when Djokovic was due to play his first game, said: “If I can say with due respect, the tail will not wag the dog here.”

POLITICAL COMBAT

Djokovic’s fate is linked to a political fight in Australia, characterized by finger-pointing between Morrison’s conservative administration and the left-wing Victoria state government.

The feuds continued as daily COVID-19 infections in Australia hit an all-time high for the fourth day in a row, with new cases surpassing 72,000, overwhelming hospitals and causing labor shortages.

Under the Australian federal system, states and territories can issue exemptions from vaccination requirements to enter their jurisdictions. However, the federal government controls international borders and can challenge such exemptions.

Djokovic traveled to Australia after receiving an exemption from the Victorian government. This exemption – the reasons for which are not known – supported his visa issued by the federal government.

Upon his arrival, however, Federal Border Force officials at the airport said Djokovic was unable to justify the reasons for his exemption.

The Australian working group that sets the exemption parameters lists the risk of severe heart disease due to inoculation and infection with COVID-19 in the past six months as qualifiers. However, Morrison said on Thursday that Tennis Australia was told weeks ago that a recent infection did not meet the criteria for exemption.

Government officials from Tennis Australia and Victoria said Djokovic had not received any preferential treatment.

The Serbian has won nine titles at Melbourne Park, including the last three, but he will likely face a tough crowd if he takes to the pitch next week.

“I think the Victorian people would think ‘Yes I would love to see him play and compete, but at the same time there is a right and a wrong way,” said Australian great tennis player Rod Laver, after whom the main showcourt is named, News Corp. said.

“I think it could get ugly.”

(Written by Jane Wardell and Alex Richardson; Editing by Stephen Coates, Simon Cameron-Moore and Hugh Lawson)

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