At the end of a river hearing of several hours, marked by many technical incidents, the Australian justice decided on Monday to release Novak Djokovic. Federal judge Anthony Kelly has appeared to be defending the 34-year-old. “What more could this man have done?” he asked, after listing the documents provided by Novak Djokovic to obtain his visa and obtain the right to participate in the Australian Open.
The player was released quickly. Australian justice recognizes by this decision that the government did not offer Djokovic sufficient time to respond after the cancellation of his visa. The saga may not be completely over: Immigration Minister Alex Hawke can now intervene in person to cancel the visa of the world’s number 1. Christopher Tran, a government lawyer, confirms that Canberra could still decide to expel the Serbian player, which would result in him being barred from entering Australia for three years.
In the meantime, this legal decision sounds like a first victory for “Djoko”. “Novak, Novak, Novak”, chanted dozens of fans of the champion parading, beating drums, in front of the federal court in Melbourne, which decided the case which has held in suspense since January 5 Australia, Serbia and the whole world, around the fate of the player placed since his arrival in a detention center for foreigners in Melbourne.
In the early afternoon, the “Djoker” posted a message on Twitter, accompanied by a photo of him on the court: “I want to stay and try to participate in the Australian Open” :
The case stems from the decision by Tennis Australia (the Australian tennis federation) to grant the world tennis star an exemption, on the grounds of his infection with Covid-19 in December, to participate in the first Grand Slam of the season. His request had previously been approved by two independent medical panels, according to his lawyers. But on his arrival in the country, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the federal authorities had therefore refused him entry, believing that his grounds for exemption did not meet the strict conditions for entry into the territory linked to the fight. against Covid-19.
“I really don’t understand the reason why you won’t allow me to enter your country”, Djokovic had told a customs officer on his arrival at Melbourne airport on the night of January 5 to 6, according to a transcript of his interrogation. Saturday, Djokovic’s lawyers had also confirmed in a document filed with the federal court that he had tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16, 2021. This did not prevent the champion from attending two public events in Belgrade, without a mask, the same day and the day after this positive test.
The Australian government insists that a recent infection with Covid-19 only counts as an exemption for residents only, not for foreign nationals trying to enter the country. Djokovic “Is not vaccinated”, Australia’s lawyers pointed out in their findings released on Sunday. “This visa application must be refused”, they had pleaded. Foreigners are still banned from traveling to Australia, and those allowed to enter must be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption.
Retained as “Djoko” after also seeing her visa canceled, Czech player Renata Voracova, a doubles specialist, left Australia on Saturday, according to a government source.
At the Australian Open, which takes place from January 17 to 30, Djokovic aspired to afford a 21st Grand Slam tournament, which would have placed him at the top of tennis history, ahead of his two historic rivals , Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard believes that, from now on, Novak Djokovic should have the right to play in the tournament. Justice “Said he had the right to participate in the Australian Open and I really believe it is fairer if that is what was decided, and it appears to be the case”, Nadal estimated this Monday morning on Spanish radio Onda Cero. It remains to be seen whether it will be granted.
Update at 2.30 p.m., with Djokovic’s statement.