The prime ministers of Australia and Serbia met on Tuesday to address Novak Djokovic’s fragile visa situation, after the top-ranked Serbian tennis player won a court fight to compete in the Australian Open but still risks deportation due to his lack of COVID-19 vaccination.
In his home Serbia, the deportation drama has split emotions and garnered significant sympathy for the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
In a phone discussion, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Serbian colleague, Ana Brnabi, agreed to remain in touch about the 34-year-challenged old’s visa, according to Morrison’s office.
Morrison’s office said in a statement that the PM “emphasized our non-discriminatory border policy and its role in safeguarding Australia during the COVID-19 outbreak.” “They both decided to keep in touch about the situation.”
According to Serbian public radio Radio Television, Brnabi requested Morrison to see that the tennis player was handled with honor.
“The (Serbian) prime minister stressed the importance of the training and physical preparation conditions for the next competition,” RTS stated, “given that Novak Djokovic was not permitted to exercise in the previous days and the event in Melbourne starts this weekend.”
Within hours following his court triumph, Djokovoc was training on a Melbourne tennis court.
“I’m overjoyed and glad that the Judge reversed my visa denial. Despite everything that has transpired, I intend to remain and participate at the Australian Open. Djokovic tweeted just after midnight on Tuesday, “I remain focused on it.”
He said, “I flew here to perform in one of the most significant events we have in front of the incredible supporters.”
However, immigration minister Alex Hawke is contemplating using his authority under different rules to deport the tennis star.
Hawke’s office said in a statement that “the minister is now evaluating the case and the process is ongoing.”
Djokovic’s visa was revoked by a border official at Melbourne’s airport on Thursday, only hours after he landed in Australia to play in the event.
Djokovic was held in a quarantine hotel room in Melbourne until a court reinstated his visa on Monday, citing procedural irregularities by airport border officers.
Because he was infected with COVID-19 last month, Tennis Australia, the event organizer, granted him a medical exemption from the competition’s vaccination guidelines, allowing him to play.
However, he was denied an exemption from national immunization requirements for entering non-citizens by the Australian Border Force.
It stated that an infection within the preceding six months was only grounds for a vaccination exemption in situations of serious disease caused by the coronavirus.
Djokovic’s application to enter the nation has also been called into doubt as records disclosed by the Federal Circuit Court indicated that he informed officials he had not flown in the 14 days leading up to his journey to Australia.
Based in Monte Carlo Djokovic arrived in Melbourne shortly before midnight on Wednesday, saying “no” to the question on his Australian Travel Declaration form concerning previous travel.
However, the reigning Australian Open champion was caught on camera playing tennis on the streets of Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, on Christmas Day and practicing in Spain on December 31 – both days falling within the 14-day limit.
Giving incorrect or misleading information is a serious violation, according to the declaration, and civil penalties are also available.
Tennis Australia completed the statement on Djokovic’s behalf, but the officer who revoked his visa noted that the sports body would have done it “based on information given by the visa holder.”
Renata Voráová, a Czech tennis player, and an anonymous European tennis official have been deported for identical reasons after Djokovic’s visa was revoked.
Tennis Australia, which ministers accuse of deceiving players about Australia’s vaccination requirements, has been chastised by Morrison’s conservative administration.
Tennis Australia reportedly lobbied with the Department of Home Affairs to examine Djokovic’s and other players’ visa documents before they boarded aircraft, according to media. The department, however, did not.
Kristina Keneally, the opposition’s home affairs spokesman, slammed the government’s lack of preparedness for the turmoil surrounding the tennis star’s visa.
When Djokovic was awarded the visa, it should have been evident if it was appropriate for him to enter the nation to compete in the Australian Open, Keneally said.
“If (he) is deported, Australia would suffer tremendously. If he is allowed to remain, it will be a huge blow to our rigorous border regulations and a terrible disrespect to the Australians who worked so hard on the lockdowns and vaccinations,” Keneally told the Seven Network.
The Djokovic drama, according to Keneally, has made Australia “look like a bit of a joke” on the international stage.
The federal government has revised its border laws in recent months, according to Daniel Andrews, the leader of Victoria, which is holding the Australian Open.
“You’ll recall that when we spoke about exemptions earlier, Minister Hawke indicated that if you weren’t double vaxxed, you wouldn’t get into the nation whether you’re playing tennis or doing anything else,” Andrews, a member of the center-left Labor Party like Keneally, said.
“It turned out that wasn’t the Commonwealth government’s attitude, and they’ve been letting individuals in who haven’t been double vaxxed,” Andrews continued.