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Australian authorities said in a statement to justice that the presence of Djokovic, who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Australia, “may fuel anti-vaccination sentiment”. They believe that Serbs should be expelled from the country.
An Australian government representative said in court on Friday that the 34-year-old would not be deported until a judge made a final decision on his request to prevent deportation. However, he stressed that Djokovic must wait for this decision in administrative custody.
On Saturday morning, a meeting is scheduled between Djokovic and the immigration services. On Sunday, a Melbourne judge will then rule on Djokovic’s appeal. If the unvaccinated Serbian still gets the green light to stay in Australia, he will have to compete a day later in the first round against compatriot Miomir Kekmanovic (ATP 78). Djokovic aims to win the 10th Australian Open title. It would be his 21st Grand Slam title in total.
Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on January 5 and was initially refused his visa. He then spent several days in a hotel quarantine, after which a judge ordered his immediate release on January 10. Australia’s immigration minister was able to “overturn” that decision and did so on Friday “on the basis of the public interest”.
Angry Serbian president accuses Australia of ‘insulting’ Djokovic
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic criticized Australian authorities on Instagram on Friday. “Why are you mistreating him? Why are you not just attacking Novak, but an entire nation?”
“If you wanted to prevent Novak Djokovic from winning his 10th title in Melbourne, why didn’t you bring him back? Or why didn’t you tell him in advance that it was impossible to get a visa? Novak, we are by your side.” Vucic has been supporting Djokovic since the start of the case. He described the behavior of the Australian authorities as a “political manhunt” last week.
Nadal: The Australian Open is more important than any player
“The Australian Open is more important than any player,” Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal said on Saturday. Thus, he dealt a blow to his Serbian rival, Novak Djokovic.
“The Australian Open is going to be a great tournament, with or without him,” the world number six told reporters at Melbourne Park, two days before the grand slam kicks off.
Nadal said he respects Djokovic “as a person, of course, and as an athlete without a doubt”. “I really respect him, although I don’t agree with a lot of the things he’s done in the past two weeks,” said the 35-year-old Spaniard.