Tennis: Novak Djokovic loses appeal and leaves Australia

The decision definitively buries Novak Djokovic’s hopes of winning a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open which begins on Monday January 17. The Australian Federal Court on Sunday rejected the appeal of the 34-year-old Serbian tennis player against his expulsion from the country, ordered by the government which considered that the world number one, not vaccinated against Covid-19, represented a “health risk”.

→ CONTEXT. Novak Djokovic returned to detention in Australia

At midday, Novak Djokovic left Melbourne on a flight to Dubai. “Extremely disappointed” by the Court’s decision on his expulsion, he had a few hours earlier said in a statement that he respected the verdict and was preparing to leave the country.

“Civil Unrest”

Allowed to leave the detention center where he was placed on Saturday, Novak Djokovic followed the hearing online, which lasted four hours, from the offices of his lawyers in Melbourne.

In his conclusions filed on Saturday before the Court, the Minister of Immigration Alex Hawke had maintained that the presence of Novak Djokovic in the country was “likely to represent a health risk”. According to him, she encouraged “anti-vaccination sentiment” and could deter Australians from getting their booster shots, as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country. The presence in Australia of the champion could even “lead to an upsurge in civil unrest”, added the minister.

→ READ. Antivax, esotericism and mysterious pyramid: Novak Djokovic, follower of pseudosciences

Although he had described the risk of the player himself infecting Australians as “negligible”, the Minister had estimated that his “contempt” Passing health rules against Covid was a bad example.

Sufficient evidence

Sunday before the Court, the tennis player’s lawyers described the detention of their client and his possible expulsion as“illogical”, “irrational” and “unreasonable”.

The government “don’t know what Novak Djokovic’s opinions are at the moment”, pleaded lawyer Nick Wood, saying that his client has never publicly supported the anti-vaccination movement.

Government lawyer Stephen Lloyd responded that the champion’s failure to be vaccinated nearly two years into the pandemic and his repeated disregard of health rules, including failing to isolate when he knew he was infected, constituted sufficient proof of his position.

This twisty soap opera took place in a country whose inhabitants have endured for almost two years some of the strictest anti-Covid restrictions in the world, and where elections are scheduled for May. Hence a charged political context. Pressure had intensified in recent days around Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accused of“incompetence” by the Labor opposition.

“A loss for tennis”

The Australian government thus welcomed its legal victory on Sunday. ‘Australia’s strong border protection policy has kept us safe during the pandemic’, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement. “Australians have made great sacrifices to get here and the Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting this position” he added.

→ ANALYSIS. The Djokovic case raises the question of the vaccination status of athletes

In Serbia, where Novak Djokovic is revered and considered a national hero, Australia’s decision unsurprisingly went down badly. “They humiliated themselves, Djokovic can return to his country with his head held high and look everyone straight in the eye”, President Aleksandar Vucic got carried away about the Australian leaders.

The ATP, which manages the men’s professional circuit, estimated for its part that the decision of the Australian justice “put an end to a series of deeply regrettable events”. “Judicial decisions on public health issues must be respected”, she added, recalling that she “continues to strongly recommend vaccination to all players”. Before recalling that Djokovic “is one of the greatest champions in our sport and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for tennis”.


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Djokovic leaves Australia

AustraliaA few hours after the court’s ruling, world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic boarded a plane to Dubai.

Djokovic (second from left) arrived at Melbourne airport on the afternoon of January 16 to leave Australia. Photo: Reuters

Djokovic, dressed all in black, accompanied a group of assistants to the airport in Melbourne. The Serbian tennis player will fly Emirates to Dubai – where he lives before applying for entry to Australia.

This is the end of the noisy affair that has lasted for the past 10 days, starting when Djokovic had his visa canceled for the first time at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport on the night of January 5. In a hearing five days later, the Judge asked the Australian Government to return Djokovic’s visa because the Border Force did not follow the procedure. The world number one was then freed, spending three days training at the Rod Laver Arena.

However, on the afternoon of January 15, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his personal power to cancel Djokovic’s visa again. This afternoon, a court hearing was opened on the appeal of Djokovic. This time there are three judges. According to the final ruling, Chief Justice James Allsop announced that upholding Minister Hawke’s decision would mean Djokovic’s expulsion from Australia.

Djokovic’s lawyers asked for more time to appeal and consider next actions. However, Chief Justice Allsop, acting on behalf of the other two Justices, believes that any further request for the case is unnecessary.

Minutes after losing the lawsuit, Djokovic wrote on the page Instagram: “I am extremely disappointed with the Court’s decision that has just been issued, rejecting my application to review the decision to cancel my visa from the Immigration Minister. This means I cannot stay in Australia to compete. But , I respect the Court’s decision and will cooperate with the authorities regarding my departure from the country.”

It is not clear if the 34-year-old star will be banned from entering Australia for three years.

He has attended the Australian Open for 17 consecutive years, setting a record of winning all nine finals, including the last three. He currently holds the record of 20 Grand Slams with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Nhan Dat



Novak Djokovic returned to detention in Australia

The soap opera of the participation of the Serbian tennis player in the Australian Open continues, Saturday, January 15, with his return to administrative detention in the Melbourne hotel used by the government to retain people in an irregular situation. He had been placed there previously before being released on Monday, January 10.

In his pleadings filed in court on Saturday, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke argued that Novak Djokovic’s presence in the country was “likely to pose a health risk to the Australian community”. According to him, the position of the player could encourage “anti-vaccination sentiment” and dissuade Australians from getting their booster shots, or even “lead to an upsurge in civil unrest “.

A bad example for Australians

The minister thus canceled Djokovic’s visa for the second time on Friday, January 14, by virtue of his discretionary power, invoking “ health and public order reasons », and considering that the « contempt Djokovic’s past with regard to health rules against the Covid was a bad example.

The Australian government launched deportation proceedings against the Serbian star earlier this week, which were unsuccessful after a judge blocked Djokovic’s deportation, reinstated his visa and ordered his immediate release.

Two days before the opening of the Australian Open, the participation of the Serb, who was to face his compatriot Miomir Kekmanovic on Monday in the first round, now seems unlikely.

Rafael Nadal annoyed

Novak Djokovic had been blocked on his arrival in Australia on January 5 and placed in administrative detention for the first time. The player, who contracted Covid-19 in December, hoped to be granted an exemption to enter the country without being vaccinated, which was not accepted by the authorities. This twisty soap opera takes place in a country whose inhabitants have endured some of the strictest health restrictions in the world for almost two years, and where elections are scheduled for May.

The Djokovic case is also followed assiduously in Serbia where “Nole is considered a national hero. On Friday, President Aleksandar Vucic accused Australia of “to mistreat “.

The other players preparing for the tournament no longer hide their annoyance and weariness. “The Australian Open is more important than any player” And this “will be a great Australian Open with or without him”, declared the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, one of the three superstars of world tennis, alongside Djokovic and the Swiss Roger Federer.



Tennis: Australia cancels Novak Djokovic’s visa again

The Australian visa of tennis world number one Novak Djokovic, who entered the country without being vaccinated against Covid-19, has been canceled for the second time, announced Friday January 14 the Minister of Immigration, Alex Hawke. This decision was made “on health and public order grounds”, the minister said in a statement. The Australian government “is strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic”, he added.

→ READ. Antivax, esotericism and mysterious pyramid: Novak Djokovic, follower of pseudo-sciences

This second visa cancellation implies that the Serbian player, who was aiming for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open which begins on Monday January 17, will be banned from entering the country for three years, except in certain circumstances.

Australian authorities also intend to order the return of the world number one in detention as of Saturday morning, government lawyer Stephen Lloyd announced on Friday. The government wants the Serb to be released from detention only to attend, in the offices of his lawyers and under the supervision of border police officers, the online court hearings concerning his case, the lawyer said .

Djokovic will not be expelled from Australia until justice has been finally pronounced, had previously assured Stephen Lloyd during a hearing before a judge in Melbourne. This Victorian judge, Anthony Kelly, announced on Friday that he was relinquishing responsibility in favor of Australian federal justice, despite the objections of the player’s lawyers who said they feared a slowdown in the procedure.

Novak Djokovic was training for the tournament

The 34-year-old’s visa had already been canceled for the first time on January 5 when he arrived in Melbourne, and Novak Djokovic was then placed in a detention center for deportation.

→ REREAD. The Djokovic case raises the question of the vaccination status of athletes

The tennis player’s lawyers had however won a resounding victory on January 10, obtaining from a judge that he restore his visa and order his immediate release. Since then, Novak Djokovic has been training for the tournament, and was due to face his compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic, 78, in the first round.and world player.

But the Minister of Immigration retained the possibility of canceling the visa again under his discretionary power.



Antivax, esotericism and mysterious pyramid: Novak Djokovic, follower of pseudosciences

The standoff continues between Novak Djokovic and Australian justice. The tennis player, unvaccinated, admitted Wednesday, January 12 in an Instagram post to have committed “Errors” after testing positive for Covid-19 on December 16.

The world number one did not consider it necessary to postpone a meeting with journalists from the daily The team two days later. “I felt compelled to continue and to do the L’Équipe interview because I didn’t want to let the journalist down”, he justified himself.

→ EXPLANATION. Novak Djokovic, vaccination and Australia: the reasons for a diplomatic incident

Novak Djokovic also pleaded “Human error” for having incorrectly completed the entry form to Australia. The player certifies not to have traveled in the 14 days preceding his arrival in the Antipodes. A period during which he nevertheless found himself in Serbia and then in Spain.

This false declaration earned him the cancellation of his visa, obtained thanks to a medical exemption allowing him to participate without being vaccinated at the Australian Open from January 17 to 30. This cancellation had itself been revoked by the Australian justice on Monday January 10.

Vaccine skepticism

Behind this politico-judicial imbroglio, there is the vagueness that has long surrounded the vaccination status of Novak Djokovic. The world number one has never hidden his skepticism towards vaccination.Personally, I am opposed to vaccination and I would not want to be forced by someone to have a vaccine in order to be able to travel ”, he said in April 2020 on Facebook.

→ ANALYSIS. The Djokovic case raises the question of the vaccination status of athletes

The Serbian champion is also known for his controversial positions vis-à-vis science. Adept of a gluten-free diet – a diet he defends in his book Winning service. Gluten-free food for perfect physical and mental health -, the 34-year-old player has never hidden his attraction for alternative medicines and pseudosciences.

In spring 2020, Novak Djokovic for example hosted a live Instagram with Chervin Jafarieh, well-being guru and boss of the food supplement brand Cymbiotika. The Serbian player said: I have seen people and I know people who through energetic transformation, the power of prayer, the power of gratitude, manage to transform the most toxic foods and the most polluted water into the most purifying. “

Novak Djokovic thus echoed the theory of Masaru Emoto, doctor of alternative medicine, according to which thought can have an impact on the structure of water. A theory more than controversial and which has never been validated by the scientific community. The champion and his wife Jelena are also followers of the Steiner-Waldorf pedagogy, named after the Austrian author Rudolf Steiner, theorist of anthroposophy. This esoteric ideology mixes concepts from different religions and considers that the world is moved by spiritual forces.

Esoteric pilgrimages

The pilgrimages of the Serbian in the small town of Visoko in Serbia are also talking. In 2005, Semir Osmanagic, a Serbian businessman, claims that the hill overlooking the village is actually a pyramid built by a technologically superior civilization. Novak Djokovic is going there in 2020 and says he felt “Regenerated”. Since then, tourism has exploded in the village, to the delight of Semir Osmanagic.

→ MAINTENANCE. Bronner report: “The Covid-19 revealed forms of conspiracy in certain Catholic fringes”

Convinced that his beliefs play a role in his many successes, the player with twenty major titles is not yet out of the woods. The Australian immigration minister can still cancel his visa permanently, preventing him from taking part in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.



Tennis: an Australian judge orders the release of Novak Djokovic

Judge Anthony Kelly ended several days of legal battle by ordering on Monday January 10 the immediate release of Novak Djokovic, who, wishing to enter Australia without being vaccinated against Covid-19, has been held since his arrival in a center for migrants in Melbourne.

Christopher Tran, a government lawyer, warned, however, that Canberra could still decide to expel Novak Djokovic from the country, which would result in him being barred from entering Australia for three years.

→ EXPLANATION. Novak Djokovic, vaccination and Australia: the reasons for a diplomatic incident

The tennis player’s lawyers were trying to convince the federal court that the Serbian champion had contracted the Covid in December, which would exempt him from a compulsory vaccination to enter the territory. “What more could this man have done?” “, admitted during the hearing followed online by AFP the judge, who considered that Djokovic provided evidence, emanating from “Of a professor and an eminently qualified doctor” regarding his request for a medical exemption.

The “completely confused” player

The hearing opened late after a computer problem due to too many connections to attend its online retransmission, finally shared on YouTube in particular, despite a ban, by antivax. Djokovic, who did not speak at the hearing, finally obtained permission from the court to follow Monday’s proceedings from another, undisclosed location, before being forced to return to the detention center in the outcome of the hearings.

According to the sportsman’s lawyers, the player was “Completely confused”, when he was heard for several hours on the night of January 5 to 6 at Melbourne airport. They argued in particular that he was deprived of means of communication with his entourage during his interrogation. His lawyers say he tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16. However, he attended the next day in Belgrade, without a mask, a ceremony in honor of young Serbian players.

The Australian Open, where Djokovic aims to afford a 21st Grand Slam tournament that would place him at the top of tennis history ahead of his two historic rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, begins in seven days and his participation depended entirely on Anthony Kelly’s decision.



Novak Djokovic, vaccination and Australia: the reasons for a diplomatic incident

The Australian Open tennis tournament could be played without its nine-time winner: Novak Djokovic has been detained in Melbourne by immigration services since his arrival on Wednesday evening. The visa of the Serbian world number one – who has always refused to say if he was vaccinated or not – has been canceled by the authorities, despite a medical exemption obtained to participate in the tournament (January 17 to 30). Threatened with deportation, he obtained a reprieve on Thursday until Monday. “La Croix” takes stock.

► What is the medical exemption that Novak Djokovic had announced to have obtained?

For months, “Nole” had cast doubt on his participation in the Australian Open because of the obligation to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the country. The Serb, whose vaccination status is unknown, finally announced on Tuesday that he had obtained a medical waiver issued by the state of Victoria (where the tournament takes place) and theAustralian Tennis Federation for unvaccinated people.

→ ANALYSIS. The Djokovic case raises the question of the vaccination status of athletes

The reason for this exemption was not disclosed, the Federation invoking medical confidentiality. According to several media, it could have been granted due to contamination prior to Covid-19. The player had indeed tested positive in June 2020. According to the Australian daily The Age, it could have been contaminated again “At some point in the last six months”.

In Australia, this exemption was seen as preferential treatment, when the leaders of the Australian Open had promised the greatest firmness towards the unvaccinated. Wednesday, the Australian tabloid Courier Mail thus titled “You must be Djoking” (“You are joking”), a play on words around the name of the player, renamed “No-Vax” Djokovic. “If he is not vaccinated, he will have to provide acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (…). If this proof is not sufficient, he will be treated like all the others. (unvaccinated) and sent home, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had also warned at a press conference.

► Why was he, despite everything, turned away?

Despite this medical exemption, Novak Djokovic’s visa was finally canceled Thursday by Australian authorities upon his arrival in the country. According to The Age, contrary to what had been put forward at first, this refusal would not be linked to a visa error – the player would have presented a document which does not allow a medical exemption for a non-vaccinated person – but the reasons invoked by the Serbian to justify his supposed non-vaccination. “There does not seem to be a causal relationship between the fact that recently contracted the Covid and the fact that he was not vaccinated “, thus indicates the daily.

→ PORTRAIT. Winner at Roland-Garros, Djokovic on the road to the record

Novak Djokovic appealed against this decision. He was granted a reprieve until Monday. In the meantime, the Belgrade native is being held in a Melbourne hotel used by the government to hold people in an irregular situation. Several supporters gathered there to show their support, and at least one person was apprehended as the police tried to disperse the demonstrators.

► How did his arrest turn into the diplomatic incident?

The affair turned into a diplomatic incident after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic regretted Wednesday evening on Instagram the ” bad treatment “ inflicted on Novak Djokovic by Australia. Thursday, Aleksandar Vucic went even further by denouncing “A political hunt”.

The Serbian authorities, he stressed, are doing “All they can” to help the world number one, specifying that Belgrade has contacted twice the Australian ambassador in Serbia and that the prime minister, Ana Brnabic, is to meet with a senior official of the Australian ministry of immigration and borders .

Belgrade intends to ask the Australian authorities to allow Novak Djokovic to stay in the house he had rented for the Australian Open and not in the hotel where he is currently and which the Serbian president has described “Infamous in the proper sense of the word”. The player’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, has also called for a demonstration of support in Belgrade.

► What is Novak Djokovic’s position on the vaccine?

The Serb has always refused to say whether he was vaccinated or not. “I’m going to keep the decision to get vaccinated or not to myself. I don’t want to be labeled pro or anti vaccine ”, he had declared at Roland Garros last April. The world number one, however, has never hidden his opposition to compulsory vaccination, repeatedly believing that everyone should be “Free” to make a choice.

→ EXPLANATION. Covid-19: what we know about the consequences for athletes

In June 2020, the Serbian had also been criticized after his contamination during the charitable tour he himself organized in the Balkans. “In Serbia, Corona is just a drink! “, he had fun at the start of this tournament, during which the barrier gestures had not been respected and which had ended up being canceled after the detection of several positive cases.



The Djokovic case raises the question of the vaccination status of athletes

The joy of the world number one in tennis was short-lived. Tuesday, January 4, a smiling Novak Djokovic posed on the tarmac of an airport, ready to fly to Melbourne. The man with the 20 Grand Slam titles including nine on Australian soil – was pleased to have obtained a medical exemption to be able to play the Australian Open, from January 17 to 30. The Serb was disillusioned when he arrived at Melbourne airport the next day. After detaining the player for several hours, the Australian authorities finally canceled his visa, compromising his participation in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.

“Mr. Djokovic did not provide the appropriate information to enter Australia”, explained Greg Hunt, the Australian Minister of Health, Wednesday evening. According to the local daily The Age, he would not have completed the correct form for the type of visa he requested. The decision of the Australian authorities comes in any case at the end of two days of imbroglio around the vaccination situation of Novak Djokovic. The Serbian player, openly hostile to vaccination, has never communicated on his vaccination status.

“The world has suffered enough like this not to follow the rules”

The vagueness surrounding the granting of a medical exemption to Novak Djokovic has not failed to revive the debate on the vaccination of athletes. “The only thing clear to me is that if you are vaccinated you can play the Australian Open and everywhere else. (…) I think that if Novak wanted it, he would play in Australia without problem ”, Rafael Nadal reacted on Thursday, on the sidelines of the Melbourne tournament in which he takes part, adding that “The world has suffered enough like this not to follow the rules.”

→ DEBATE. Covid-19: should vaccination be made compulsory?

If other renowned athletes, like Kylian Mbappé, have shown themselves to be fervent activists for vaccination, others have expressed their reluctance towards vaccines. This is the case with NBA superstar Kyrie Irving. Refusing to be vaccinated, the basketball player of the Brooklyn Nets has missed 35 games this season … before returning to the workforce at the request of his leaders.

A question of ethics

For their part, the Australian authorities do not seem willing to grant such a privilege to Novak Djokovic. Australian Prime Minister himself Scott Morisson demanded that the Serbian player provide the evidence justifying the exemption, otherwise “He will return home in the first plane”. “There will be no special rule for Novak Djokovic”, he insisted.

“The Australian government is sending a message to its people: the athlete, even if it is Djokovic, is a citizen who is subject to the same rules as the others”, observes William Gasparini, sociologist specializing in sports issues at the University of Strasbourg. “The particular health and political context of Melbourne also explains the attitude of the public authorities”, he adds. An exception would probably have been very badly perceived by the population in a city which, with more than 262 days of confinement, holds the world record in the matter.

→ ANALYSIS. Beijing Winter Olympics: athletes anticipate the Games under cover

For the sociologist, vaccination is also a question of ethics: “We consider that high-level athletes, because of what they represent, have a duty to set an example. “ Proof that this exemplarity counts in the eyes of the public, Buffalo Bills player Cole Beasley was booed by his own supporters after publicly expressing his refusal to be vaccinated.

Vaccination pass

Ethical question or not, health measures are being reinforced all over the planet, tightening the noose around recalcitrant athletes. In France, the bill transforming the health pass into a vaccination pass was adopted at first reading on Thursday, January 6. “The obligation to present a vaccination pass is based on the place frequented, recalls Me Gautier Kertudo, lawyer specializing in sports law. Therefore, it applies in the same way to athletes and supporters. “

→ ANALYSIS. Delayed in the Assembly, the law on the vaccine pass continues its path

However, exceptions could exist with regard to certain sporting events. According to The Parisian, a tournament like Roland-Garros could set up a “Strict sanitary bubble” rather than requiring a full immunization schedule from participating athletes. An exemption that would save Novak Djokovic a lot of trouble. For now, the Serbian champion has obtained a suspension of his expulsion from Australian territory. The player should be fixed on his fate on Monday January 10, date of the hearing.



Tennis: Amélie Mauresmo appointed director of Roland-Garros

Former world tennis number 1 Amélie Mauresmo was appointed director of Roland-Garros after the departure of Guy Forget, announced the president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), Gilles Moretton, Thursday, December 9.

“We are very happy to announce that Amélie Mauresmo will be the new director of Roland-Garros at least until 2024”, welcomed Gilles Moretton at a press conference.

→ ANALYSIS. Tennis: the boss of the French Federation plays all the balls

Great “pride”

It’s a big one ” pride “, for her part commented Amélie Mauresmo, who said ” honored “ to take the direction of the major tournament on clay, flagship of the FFT of which it is the main source of income.

” I will meet your expectations “, she promised. Guy Forget, who directed Roland-Garros since 2016 and the Masters 1000 in Paris since 2012, was at the end of his contract at the end of the year 2021 and on Tuesday refused the offers made by Gilles Moretton, said the president of the FFT. The new director of the Bercy indoor tournament will be announced “Early 2022”, added the latter.



Tennis: Guy Forget leaves the management of the Roland-Garros and Bercy tournaments

“Guy Forget, arriving at the end of his contract on December 31, 2021, is stepping down as director of the Roland-Garros tournament and the Rolex Paris Masters. His succession for the Parisian Grand Slam will be announced in the coming days ”, said the French Tennis Federation (FFT) in a press release Tuesday, December 7.

The former French number 1, now 56 years old, was director of these two major tournaments, among the main ones on the circuit, since 2016 for the Major on clay and since 2012 for the Masters 1000 indoors.

→ READ. Roland-Garros limited the damage to the reception of the public

The reasons for his departure are not specified, but according to the daily The team, Guy Forget announced Tuesday morning to the president of the FFT Gilles Moretton that he did not wish to return to a new contract.

Pandora papers

Guy Forget’s name was cited in early October in the “Pandora papers”, an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), according to which he would have benefited from opaque tax packages in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. The ethics committee of the FFT had taken charge of this case and had cleared Guy Forget on November 5, “In the absence of tax evasion or other established criminally reprehensible behavior”.

→ EXPLANATION. “Pandora papers”: what we know about this survey which pinpoints politicians and stars

The ethics committee had, however, asked Guy Forget to “To do everything possible so that the possible damage to his reputation (…) does not affect that of the tournaments he directs or that of the FFT” in the event of legal follow-up given to the revelations of the press. “I am happy to see that the ethics committee made this report”, commented Guy Forget on the sidelines of the Bercy tournament, refusing to say more.