Covid-19 / Australian Open: Djokovic strikes back

Covid 19 Australian Open Djokovic strikes back

Novak Djokovic does not give up: banned from entering Australia for health reasons, he believes he can be exempted from vaccination because he contracted Covid-19 in December, and asked to be able to leave the Melbourne detention center in order to be able to train.

“The date of the first positive PCR test was recorded on December 16, 2021”, which would allow the world No.1 to be exempted from the vaccination imposed by Australia, said on Saturday the lawyers of the Serbian, 34, in a document filed with federal court. His appeal is due to be considered on Monday.

Djokovic, however, attended two public events in Belgrade, the day and the day after this positive test in December, according to various social media posts: a ceremony in honor of young Serbian players on December 17 – without a mask – and the presentation of a tribute stamp to his effigy the day before.

Chosen as “Djoko” after also having her visa canceled, Czech player Renata Voracova, 38, a doubles specialist, left Australia on Saturday, a government source said.

For Djokovic, who has asked to leave the Melbourne detention center in order to train, time is running out just over a week before the Australian Open (January 17-30), which he won nine time and where he aims to afford a 21st Grand Slam tournament, which would place him at the top of tennis history, ahead of his two historic rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic posted a photo of him at an airport earlier this week, announcing his departure for Australia and explaining that he had obtained a medical exemption, which tournament management had confirmed.

But on his arrival on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the authorities had refused him entry, considering that his grounds for exemption did not meet the strict conditions for entry into the territory imposed against the Covid-19. His lawyers denounced the fact that the player was then detained for eight hours, without being able to communicate.

– The federation on the grill –


Australian Tennis Federation boss Craig Tiley on February 12, 2021 in Melbourne
© AFP – Saeed KHAN

In a video that leaked to the local press on Friday, Australian Federation boss Craig Tiley, under fire for his management of the case, defended the “incredible work” of his teams.

The Federation has been accused of misleading players about vaccination obligations to enter the country.

In a note to players published by several Australian media, the organization assured that a person who recently contracted Covid-19 could benefit from an exemption from the obligation to be fully vaccinated. Novak Djokovic has always refused to communicate on his vaccination status, while not concealing his hostility to vaccination.

The Australian government has assured to have warned Tennis Australia in November that this provision was only valid for Australian residents, not for foreigners wishing to enter the country.

The boss of Tennis Australia explains that the Federation has chosen not to speak publicly because of the appeal of Djokovic who, Friday, for his first reaction, thanked in a short message on social networks his supporters around the world, as well as “God for health”.

The world No. 1 had already been infected with Covid-19 in June 2020, at the end of a charity tournament that he had organized in the Balkans in defiance of any health precaution, and which had turned into a cluster .

In Serbia, the treatment inflicted on the idol of the whole country aroused the indignation and intervention of President Aleksandar Vucic.

– Doubts for the American season –

In Australia, where a large Serbian community lives, around 100 supporters and anti-vaccine activists chanted “Novak” outside the detention center on Saturday.


Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios at a press briefing on January 8, 2022 in Melbourne

Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios, who has had heated exchanges with the “Djoker” in the past, predicted on Saturday that if the world No.1 made it to the Australian Open he would be unstoppable: ” I think he’s going to be mad. “

The Australian imbroglio raises questions about the rest of Djokovic’s season, especially in the United States, starting with Indian Wells and Miami in March. The vaccine is compulsory to cross the American border.

After Melbourne, the next Grand Slam tournament is Roland-Garros in the spring. French Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu, on the other hand, estimated that “the health protocols imposed for major sporting events” would allow Novak Djokovic to enter France.

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