After the return to detention, the expulsion for Novak Djokovic? The world No.1 must again wait in a Melbourne detention center for his fate to be decided after the cancellation of his visa for the second time by the Australian government, which maintains that the player, not vaccinated against Covid- 19, constitutes a “health risk”.
After the failure for the first time at the start of the week of an expulsion procedure targeting the Serbian star of tennis, the Australian government has made another attempt.
But Djokovic, who has never hidden his distrust of the anti-Covid vaccine, intends to fight to the end against this decision and an interim hearing is scheduled for Sunday before a Court federal.
After having benefited from a few days of freedom which he used to train for the Australian Open where he dreams of conquering a 21 he Grand Slam record title, “Djoko”, 34 years old, was back on Saturday in the basic comfort detention center where he had already spent several days.
A convoy of vehicles, one most likely carrying Djokovic, left his lawyers’ offices — where he spent part of Saturday under the surveillance of border police officers — heading for the Park Hotel , now world famous.
– “Health risk” –
In his conclusions filed on Saturday before the Court, the Minister of Immigration Alex Hawke argued that the Djokovic’s presence in the country “is likely to pose a health risk to the Australian community”.
According to him, it encourages “anti-vaccination sentiment” and could deter Australians from getting injected cter their booster doses, as the Omicron variant continues to spread at high speed. , canceled Djokovic’s visa for the second time under his discretionary power, citing “health and public order reasons”.
Even if he qualified the risk that Djokovic contaminates himself Australians of “negligible”, the minister considered that his past “contempt” of health rules against Covid constitutes a bad example.
The minister “cites no evidence” at the support of his arguments, retorted the player’s lawyers.
Two days before the opening of the tournament, the participation of the Serb who must face, a priori Monday, in the 1st round his compatriot Miomir Kekmanovic, seems more improbable than ever.
This is the second time that Djokovic has been subject to deportation proceedings.
He had been blocked upon his arrival in Australia on January 5 and placed a first time in administrative detention. The player, who contracted the Covid-19 in December, hoped to benefit from an exemption to enter the country without being vaccinated, but the authorities did not accept this explanation.
The Australian government suffered a humiliating setback on January when a judge blocked Djokovic’s deportation, reinstated his visa and ordered his immediate release.
In a press release published on Wednesday, Djokovic had however admitted to having incorrectly filled out his declaration of entry into Australia.
– “Incompetence” –
The 86 ATP title player, seen in Serbia and Spain in the two weeks prior to his arrival, contrary to what he declared in the immigration form upon arrival, pleaded “human error”.
The dreams of a 10e title in Melbourne are all the more distant as this cancellation of visa, if it is confirmed by justice, implies that Djokovic will be banned from entering the country for three years, except in exceptional circumstances.
This twisty soap opera takes place in a country whose inhabitants have endured anti -Covid among the strictest in the world, and where elections are expected by May.
Hence a charged political context. Pressure has intensified around Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accused of “incompetence” by the Labor opposition.
The Djokovic affair is also being followed assiduously in Serbia where “Nole” is considered a national hero. On Friday, President Aleksandar Vucic accused Australia of “mistreating” him.
The other players who are preparing for the Australian Open no longer hide their annoyance and weariness.
“The Australian Open is much more important than any player” and it “will be a great Australian Open with or without him”, thus asserted the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, l one of the three world tennis superstars alongside Djokovic and the Swiss Roger Federer.
“It was really difficult for the Australians”, recalled for his part the great hope of local tennis Alex of Minaur.