Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has been considering whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa because although Djokovic has contracted COVID-19 in the past six months, that’s not a valid exemption for vaccination. This is even though a court has granted him permission to stay in the country.
- Novak Djokovic, the men’s world tennis number one, was planning to compete in the Australian Open, flying 14 hours from Dubai to Melbourne, and then was told that his visa was denied and ordered to go back home.
- Fighting the decision, he was kept in an immigration detention center while awaiting his court hearing, which caught the attention of many around the world.
- Australian Prime Minister defended the decision saying that “rules are rules and there are no special cases.”
- The court then ruled in Djokovic’s favor, labeling the circumstances Djokovic encountered “unreasonable” and issued his release.
- Now, Djokovic has spoken out.
- On Wednesday, he took to Instagram to say, “I want to address the continuing misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December … particularly in the interest of alleviating broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia.”
- He said he went to a basketball game in Belgrade on December 14 and took a rapid antigen test two days later. That test was negative, but he also took a PCR test out of “an abundance of caution.”
- He attended a tennis event the next day to present awards to children and was told that his PCR test was positive after the event. He then went to an interview and photoshoot for a French newspaper the next day, saying, “I felt obliged to go ahead.”
- While he took precautions, he also said he regrets doing this.
- His travel documents to Australia said that he had not traveled in the fortnight before arriving in the country. But social media saw him at events in Serbia and Spain during that period. The tennis player wrote that he “sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake.”
- A decision on whether Djokovic will be able to stay in the country to play in the Australian Open is expected today.
- Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has been considering whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa because although Djokovic has contracted COVID-19 in the past six months, that’s not a valid exemption for vaccination. This is even though a court has granted him permission to stay in the country.
- Meanwhile Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s election is coming up in the next few months, and this whole situation with the high-profile tennis star hasn’t been helpful for his public image.
- It gives off the impression that Morrison “hasn’t got his house in order,” and it could cost him votes if it drags on, said John Warhurst, an emeritus professor at the Australian National University to Bloomberg who has researched the nation’s politics for decades.
- “It doesn’t look like someone who is in control of the situation. It looks messy and I think that runs the risk of running against him. He’s now paddling hard to keep up.”