Under pressure, the Australian government maintains the threat on Djokovic

The Australian government has reiterated its firmness on its policy of entering the ground in the face of covid. But the decision on a possible expulsion of Novak Djokovic is still pending three days before the start of the Australian Open.

The Australian government, under pressure because of the saga Novak Djokovic, affirmed on Friday that he will remain firm on the rule of prohibiting entry to the non-vaccinated in the country, but his decision to expel or not the world number one in tennis is long overdue. The 34-year-old Serb continued Friday to train in Melbourne in the hope of conquering a 10e title at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, and a 19e Grand Slam victory, which would be a record.

Prime Minister under pressure

But Australian Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison found himself under fire criticism for delaying deciding whether or not to expel the unvaccinated champion. Djokovic admitted to having incorrectly filled out his declaration of entry into Australia, and not having respected the rules of isolation after having tested positive for Covid-19 in December.

“Nole” had been deported on his arrival in Melbourne on January 5 and placed in a detention centre. But his lawyers won a landslide victory on 10 January, getting a judge to reinstate his visa and order his immediate release. . On Thursday, the draw for the Australian Open named Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, 78 in the world, as Djokovic’s opponent in the first round.

But Immigration Minister Alex Hawke threatened to deport the champion anyway under his discretionary power. His services later indicated that the decision was delayed by an avalanche of motions filed by Djokovic’s legal team.

“We will continue to strictly enforce this policy” , says a minister

The Minister of Finance, Simon Birmingham, insisted on Friday that Australia only allows people on the anti-vaccination regimen to enter its territory. -Full Covid or those with an acceptable medical exemption. “This policy has not changed and we will continue to apply this policy rigorously”, he said on the ABC television channel.

This saga around the tennis champion includes a very strong political charge in Australia, whose inhabitants have endured for almost two years some of the strictest anti-Covid restrictions in the world, and where elections are scheduled by May.

The Minister of Immigration “must decide now whether Djokovic leaves or not”, tweeted Labor Senator Kristina Keneally, noting that the Serb had obtained his visa 58 days earlier. “The Morrison government is simply incompetent. It’s a farce.” Some tennis players have pleaded for Djokovic to be able to participate in the Open, but others are much more critical.

Novak Djokovic “played by his own rules” by choosing to not getting vaccinated before the Australian Open and “makes the majority of players look like idiots”, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, world number four, said Thursday in an interview with Indian media WION. “It takes a lot of nerve to do it and it puts the whole tournament in danger…I don’t think many players would do that,” he added.

As Omicron variant spreads in Australia, Djokovic’s behavior after he tested positive for coronavirus in Serbia on 10 December comes under scrutiny from close. The player notably participated in public events, without a mask, the 16 and 17 December in Belgrade, but said he did not yet know he was positive at that time.

In a long message published on Instagram on Wednesday, he however recognized an “error of judgment” for having received, knowing that he was asymptomatic, the French daily newspaper L’Equipe for an interview on 10 December. Djokovic also pleaded “human error” to explain how a wrong box on his Australian entry form was checked. This document shows that he attested that he had not traveled in the 14 days preceding his arrival. However, he was in Serbia and then in Spain.