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- Serbian tennis player
- Czech female tennis player
Djokovic, who travelled to Australia under the assumption he had been granted a “medical exemption”, despite refusing to confirm his vaccination status, was held by the Australian Border Force (ABF) for around ten hours at Tullamarine airport on Wednesday before being transferred to the Park hotel in the suburb of Carlton. The Serbian immediately lodged an appeal against the ABF’s decision to rescind his visa but the nine-time Australian Open champion could face up to a three-year ban from the country if he fails to win his case.
The Victorian government and Tennis Australia had appeared to assure Djokovic that he was free to enter the country and defend his title, but a fierce wave of public backlash led to political intervention. Some have accused Australia’s government of using the tennis star as a political pawn to distract from the country’s own Covid problems, however, home affairs minister Karen Andrews insisted Djokovic was not being “held captive” and is “free to leave at any time”. Another player, Renata Voracova, was subsequently detained by the ABF after entering the country under the same exemption as Djokovic, despite having already competed in a warm-up event in Melbourne.
Follow all the latest news below.
Novak Djokovic latest news
Djokovic had Covid in December, his lawyers say
Legal hearing set for 10am in Melbourne on Monday
Australia scrambles to file legal defence over Djokovic decision
06:03 , Adam Withnall
The Australian authorities are scrambling to file a legal defence of their decision to bar entry to Novak Djokovic, as he spends his fourth day in immigration detention.
Australia says its health department notified tournament organising body Tennis Australia in November that a recent Covid-19 infection was not necessarily grounds for exemption in the country, as it is elsewhere. Djokovic‘s lawsuit says the Department of Home Affairs wrote to him this month to say he had satisfied the requirements to enter the country.
Home Affairs, due to file its defence on Sunday, requested an extension of the matter’s first hearing from Monday to Wednesday, a court representative told the Reuters news agency. The application was rejected, according to a ruling on the federal court’s website.
Djokovic‘s lawyers will have up to two hours to present their case from 10am (0300 GMT) on Monday, while the government department gets two hours to present its defence from 3pm, the Federal Circuit and Family Court ruled.
Djokovic’s lawyers release court documents
Saturday 8 January 2022 17:23 , Tom Kershaw
Here is the latest news from Melbourne after Djokovic’s lawyers released documents stating the world No 1’s case ahead of his appeal hearing on Monday.
Isner weighs in on Djokovic saga
Saturday 8 January 2022 16:06 , Tom Kershaw
John Isner has become another high-profile player to criticise the way Australian authorities have handled Djokovic’s case.
“What Novak is going through right now is not right,” Isner wrote on Twitter. “There’s no justification for the treatment he’s receiving ... This is such a shame.”
Voracova hopes Djokovic will be allowed to play
Saturday 8 January 2022 15:35 , Tom Kershaw
Renata Voracova, who entered Australia successfully under the same exemption as Novak Djokovic, had already competed in a warm-up event in Melbourne before being detained and later deported.
In a statement, the Czech doubles player said she hopes Djokovic will be allowed to defend his title.
Detained Czech tennis player Renata Voráčová:"I hope that Djokovic will succeed in court on Monday. I want them to let him play. We are athletes, we came for tennis, we read the rules, met the conditions, and received an exception after a lengthy process" https://t.co/60qFHz4yD3 pic.twitter.com/xLwyXCC9z7
— THE JOKER(S) 🃏🇷🇸 (@NBASerbians) January 7, 2022
Djokovic pictured with fans after date of positive test
Saturday 8 January 2022 15:15 , Tom Kershaw
Court documents released by Djokovic’s lawyers this morning revealed that the world No 1 was granted a medical exemption as he tested positive for Covid-19 on 16 December.
However, as many have pointed out on social media, the Serbian was pictured at a panel discussion that same day and then attended an award ceremony for children at the Novak Tennis Center on 17 December.
Further to that, the deadline to apply for a medical exemption for the Australian Open was set at “no later than” 10 December.
December 16 was a busy day for Djokovic:
In addition to purportedly getting a PCR test for Covid that came back positive, Djokovic also was part of a maskless, indoor panel discussion and attended a maskless, indoor ceremony for a stamp being made in his honor on that day. pic.twitter.com/rI9j0rsPJr
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 8, 2022
Tiley praises staff in leaked video
Saturday 8 January 2022 14:55 , Tom Kershaw
Tennis Australia and its chief executive Craig Tiley have remained noticeably reticent since Djokovic was detained by officials on Wednesday.
However, a leaked video has now emerged where Tiley can be seen praising his staff.
“We’ve chosen at this point not to be very public with it and simply because there is a pending lawsuit related to entry into Australia. Once that has run its course, we’ll be able to share more with you,” he appears to say.
“There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on and a lot of blaming going on, but I can assure you our team has done an unbelievable job and have done everything they possibly could according to all the instructions that they have been provided.”
Djokovic’s father says son has been ‘crucified’
Saturday 8 January 2022 14:25 , Tom Kershaw
The Serbian is awaiting the outcome of an appeal against the decision by the Australian Border Force (ABF) to cancel the reigning Australian Open champion’s entry visa and deport him. With the appeal adjourned until 10am on Monday, Djokovic is being detained at the Park Hotel, a state-run quarantine facility in Melbourne which has also housed asylum seekers.
Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic claims Djokovic was the victim of “political persecution” by the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and others in the country’s government, calling on them to move him from the “horrific hotel” where he is being detained into a private rented house.
Back in Belgrade, Djokovic’s father Srdjan demonstrated outside the National Assembly buildings and addressed a media conference to highlight what the Serbian’s family and his supporters perceived to be an injustice Down Under.
“He met all the required conditions for the entry and participation at the tournament that he would have certainly won, since it’s Novak, the best tennis player and sportsman in the world,” Srdjan Djokovic told a press conference on Thursday. “Jesus was crucified and endured many things, but is still alive among us. Novak is also crucified… He will endure.”
What does Djokovic think about vaccines?
Saturday 8 January 2022 13:55 , Tom Kershaw
In April 2020 Djokovic said that he was opposed to vaccines. He later clarified that he was “no expert” but that he wanted to explore other options. During a Facebook event he said he “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine” to travel to tournaments, and that he was “curious about wellbeing and how we can empower our metabolism to be in the best shape to defend against imposters like Covid-19.”
Djokovic has previous when it comes to questionable science. He has claimed before the positivity can cleanse water, saying: “Scientists have proven that molecules in water react to our emotions.” He also wrote in his book that a doctor highlighted weakness in his arm while holding a loaf of bread which was supposedly evidence of a gluten intolerance. His wife Jelena was hit with a misinformation tag on Instagram after posting a 5G conspiracy theory.
Djokovic treated ‘like a felon’ in ‘extraordinary scandal’
Saturday 8 January 2022 13:35 , Tom Kershaw
Former Yugoslavia Davis Cup coach Radmilo Armenulic said Novak Djokovic had been treated “like a felon” and described the situation as an “extraordinary scandal.”
“They detained him under police presence. He was held in a room for eight hours after he was cleared to take part in the Australian Open by the medical panel,” Armenulic told Reuters.
“This decision, in my opinion, reflects lawlessness and not the rule of law. They have treated Novak like a criminal and a villain to stop him from winning his 21st Grand Slam.”
Djokovic’s mother calls situation over rescinded visa ‘not human’
Saturday 8 January 2022 13:10 , Tom Kershaw
Novak Djokovic’s mother Dijana has called her son’s situation over a rescinded visa “not human”.
“I feel terrible since yesterday that they are keeping him as a prisoner. It’s not fair. It’s not human. I hope that he will win,” said Djokovic’s mother.
She also confirmed that she had spoken with him briefly by telephone from Belgrade. She added: “Terrible, terrible accommodation. It’s just some small immigration hotel, if it’s hotel at all.”
Toni Nadal sends message to Djokovic
Saturday 8 January 2022 12:45 , Tom Kershaw
Rafael Nadal’s uncle and trainer Toni Nadal has joined the debate over Novak Djokovic, admitting he is surprised that the Serbian is not vaccinated yet after attempting to play the Australian Open.
“I must admit that until Tuesday’s announcement, I thought that the Serbian player would give up participating in the tournament , or that the vaccine would be inoculated,” Toni Nadal says in his El Pais column.
“There are almost six million people who have lost their lives due to this damn virus and many other millions who have received the vaccine.
“I want to think that Novak is no stranger to all this and that he will clear the doubts as a sign of human sensitivity and understanding.”
PM: Djokovic alerted himself to authorities with statement
Saturday 8 January 2022 12:25 , Tom Kershaw
“One of the things that the Border Force does... is act on intelligence to direct their attention to potential arrivals,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Sky Sports News.
“When you get people making public statements about what they say they have and what they are going to do and what their claims are, they draw significant attention to themselves.
“Anyone who does that, whether they’re a celebrity, a politician, a tennis player, a journalist, whoever does that, they can expect to be asked questions more than others before you come.”
Medvedev: Djokovic decision ‘very tough in real life’
Saturday 8 January 2022 11:55 , Tom Kershaw
US Open champion Daniil Medvedev has resisted the opportunity to take sides in the debate over Novak Djokovic’s visa situation ahead of the Australian Open.
The Russian will be bumped up to the No 1 seed if Djokovic pulls out due to visa issues and maintains he is merely focusing on himself right now.
“If he had a fair exemption from the rule, well, he should be here; if he didn’t, he shouldn’t be here,” Medvedev said.
“It sounds easy, but it seems very tough in real life, and I don’t know the insides of the story, so that’s why I’m just focusing on myself.”
Djokovic denied access to personal chef - reports
Saturday 8 January 2022 11:37 , Tom Kershaw
Novak Djokovic’s requests for access to his personal chef and a tennis court have been rejected by Australian authorities, according to reports.
The Australian said officials have remained adamant that the world No 1 will be denied access to any preferential treatment during the course of his stay at the Park Hotel in Melbourne.
Djokovic was also unable to celebrate Orthodox Christmas on Friday, with a priest from the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Melbourne said to have been turned away.
Australian tennis chief praises team for Djokovic response
Saturday 8 January 2022 11:08 , Karl Matchett
Craig Tiley, the boss of Tennis Australia, has praised his organisation for the work they have done in Novak Djokovic’s case as the tennis star awaits the outcome of his appeal.
There has been criticism aimed everywhere it seems, from toward Djokovic and his team, to the organisers’ earlier claims that he’d be allowed in and even toward the country’s visa process, but a leaked video reported by the Sunday Herald Sun paper in Australia shows Tiley rejected the accusations that Tennis Australia had mislead players over what was necessary to gain entry for the Australian Open.
“There is a lot finger pointing going on... but I can assure you our team has done an unbelievable job,” he said.
Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka pulls out of warm-up tournament
Saturday 8 January 2022 10:53 , Karl Matchett
Naomi Osaka has withdrawn with an injury from her semi-final at the Melbourne Summer Set as she prepares to defend her Australian Open title.
In a statement issued by Tennis Australia Osaka said: “I had a lot of fun playing here in Melbourne. Unfortunately I have an abdominal injury which I need to rest and prepare for the Australian Open.”
Later on Twitter Osaka posted: “Sad to withdraw due to injury from my match today, my body got a shock from playing back to back intense matches after the break I took. I’ll try to rest up and I’ll see you soon!”
The four-time grand slam winner took a break from playing after losing to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of September’s US Open.
Following her winning return to action in Melbourne earlier in the week, Osaka said her main target for 2022 is to feel like she is “having fun” on the court.
Veronika Kudermetova had been due to face the Japanese world number 13 prior to the withdrawal, with the Russian now to take on Simona Halep in the final after the Romanian progressed with a straight-sets win over Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen.
Djokovic asks Serbian president to help him leave hotel
Saturday 8 January 2022 10:37 , Karl Matchett
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has revealed that Novak Djokovic asked to be moved out of his immigration hotel and into rented accommodation.
TennisWorldUSA report the national leader explaining having been in contact with the tennis player and asking what he could do to help - but Australian immigration rules are preventing it happening.
“We did everything we could. Last night I talked to Novak for the first time, this morning for the second time, in accordance with the agreements we have, Ana Brnabic is just calling on the phone, praying and asking for one thing,” Vucic said.
“That before the final decision of the court on Monday, they allow Novak not to be in this infamous hotel, but in the house he rented. That is what Novak asked from his country, it is our obligation to protect our citizens. I talked to him last night and this morning, our ministry is involved.”
Voracova hopes Djokovic can play at Australian Open
Saturday 8 January 2022 10:26 , Karl Matchett
Doubles player Renata Voracova has become the second Australian Open hopeful to have their visa cancelled and is now reportedly being held in the same quarantine hotel as Novak Djokovic.
Voracova, who had already competed in a warm-up event in Melbourne, is said to have obtained a vaccine exemption on the basis that she had been infected with Covid-19 in the past six months - the same reason used by Djokovic.
“I’m in a room and I can’t go anywhere,” Voracova told Czech dailies DNES and Sport.
“My window is shut tight, I can’t open it five centimetres (two inches). And there are guards everywhere, even under the window, which is quite funny. Maybe they thought I would jump and run away,
“They bring me food and there’s a guard in the corridor. You have to report, everything is rationed. I feel a bit like in prison.”
Voracova says she will not be appealing the decision and is likely to leave over the weekend, but hopes that Djokovic is allowed to play at the AO.
“We are athletes, we have come here to play tennis and not to deal with disputes behind the scenes,” she added.
PTPA in touch with Djokovic
Saturday 8 January 2022 10:10 , Karl Matchett
The Professional Tennis Players Association say they have been in contact with Novak Djokovic and called on Australia to allow both vaccinated and unvaccinated athletes to be allowed to partake in the Australian Open, pending “approved medical exemptions”.
A statement read:
“The PTPA has been in close contact with Mr. Djokovic, his family and legal counsel, government officials, and Australian Open leadership. Mr. Djokovic has verified his well-being to us. He has also requested that we allow him to personally share the facts of his detainment in his own words, and in his own time.
“With the utmost respect for all personal views on vaccinations, vaccinated athletes and unvaccinated athletes (with an approved medical exemption) should both be afforded the freedom to compete.
“We will continue to support and advocate for our members, and all players, in a manner that is acceptable to them.”
Djokovic surrounded by ‘nonsense’ says former coach
Saturday 8 January 2022 09:51 , Karl Matchett
The former head coach of the Serbia Davis Cup team, Bogdan Obradovic, has panned the actions and approach of Novak Djokovic.
He clarified that he has no relationship with the current star, having endured a falling out after leaving the international team scene in 2017 - and claims Djokovic’s plant-based diet is nothing more than an “experiment” which he doesn’t understand.
“I have zero contact with Novak. I have no contact with Novak. Nor do we wish each other a happy New Year, or Christmas, children’s birthdays, nothing… For what reason and why? The moment I left the national team, we got into a conflict.
“To this day I believe I was right.
“Novak is surrounded by some extreme nonsense. He went into such an experiment of something that he doesn’t even know what it’s about.”
Djokovic’s appeal states tennis star had Covid in December
Saturday 8 January 2022 09:31 , Karl Matchett
The sporting world awaits the outcome of Novak Djokovic’s fate for the Australian Open, having been initially denied entry to the country - but new information has come to light from his legal team as to why they feel he should be allowed to enter and play.
Australia’s immigration department had already given the tennis player written clearance to enter the country, court filings alleged on Saturday.
“The date of the first positive Covid PCR tests was recorded on 16 December 2021,” Djokovic’s lawyers said.
Djokovic is currently in immigration detention in Australia after having his visa cancelled.
His lawyers are challenging the decision to revoke the tennis star’s visa. They submitted a filing to court saying that Djokovic “had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 72 hours”.
Full report here: