Djokovic back to training in Australia after court victory
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Novak Djokovic may still yet be kicked out of Australia before the Australian Open with the country’s Border Force investigating whether or not he falsified travel documents. Djokovic incorrectly claimed he had not travelled for two weeks before landing Down Under and has also admitted he breached his Covid isolation while in Serbia before Christmas.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion’s lengthy cancelled visa saga is still yet to end and despite having it restored in court this week, Djokovic’s fate is still not certain.
He had his visa revoked on January 6 after landing in Australia due to question marks over his vaccine exemption, which he had been given after testing positive for COVID-19 in December.
Djokovic was then held at a detention hotel in Carlton, Melbourne for five days as he waited to find out whether he would be allowed into the country.
But a judge ordered the release of the player from detention on Monday this week, insisting the decision to cancel his visa was “unreasonable”.
Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke could still yet order that the world No 1 be booted out of the country by re-cancelling his visa.
MUST READ: Djokovic statement in full as Serb admits to breaking Covid isolation
That’s with Djokovic having admitted making a false declaration on his travel forms, insisting that his agent did not make Australia fully clear of his recent travels.
Djokovic has also owned up to breaking his period of isolation, despite staying masked and socially distanced, to do an interview two days after testing positive on December 16.
Another re-cancellation of Djokovic’s visa would then surely be met with another legal challenge from Djokovic and his team, and they would hope for the Serb to still be able to play the Australian Open which begins Monday (January 17).
A spokesperson for Hawke said: “In line with due process, minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter. As the issue is ongoing, for legal reasons it is inappropriate to comment further.”
Express Sport provides all the latest Novak Djokovic updates below.
Djokovic faces questioning in Australia, Spain and Serbia, reports suggest
The Tennis superstar now faced questions over his travels to Australia, Spain and Serbia last night after he admitted he broke his homeland’s Covid isolation rules.
Along with the ongoing visa situation, yesterday Novak Djokovic admitted to attending events in Belgrade.
Mr Djokovic is also accused of breaking Spain’s emergency travel regulations when visiting Marbella last month, the Daily Mail claims.
Daniel Andrews takes a hit at tennis star Djokovic
Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, slammed Novak Djokovic during his daily Covid press conference.
Mr Andrews was asked about the ongoing Djokovic saga, and while the Premier said he isn’t involved in the process over the Serbian tennis player’s visa, he had some advice for the 20-time grand slam champion.
He stated: “Just get vaccinated. That is the key, that’s it.
“Rafa (Rafael Nadal) could not have put it any better. Just get vaccinated.”
Australia Open set to be ‘paused’ at 50 percent capacity
Amid a surge in Covid cases in Melbourne and surrounding areas, the 2022 Australia Open has announced ticket sales will be paused at 50 percent of capacity.
In a media release, Victoria State government reassured ticket holders all tickets purchased will remain valid, stating none will be cancelled or changed.
Djokovic could miss more Majors
ESPN tennis analyst and former coach Brad Gilbert thinks Novak Djokovic could miss future tournaments and records because of his unvaccinated status.
“If you’d have asked me six months ago or nine months ago, even at the US Open, I thought he was well on his way to smashing the men’s record,” Gilbert said.
“I actually thought that he would end up passing Margaret Court (24 Grand Slams). I thought he might get 25 to 27 Majors.
“But I think there will be numerous tournaments and other majors he will no longer be able to participate in if he chooses to stay unvaccinated.”
Netflix series planned
Netflix have reportedly been given behind-the-scenes access to Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open saga and are putting together a ‘Drive to Survive’ style show.
F1 has seen tremendous growth in the sport since they allowed Netflix cameras to film all the action three years ago.
The Daily Mail claim tennis is following suit with an agreement in place for a docuseries to show all of the 2022 campaign.
The report adds that Executive Producer James Gay-Rees, the man behind the success of Drive to Survive, is leading the project.
Djokovic to be ‘more angry’
Crystal Palace skipper Luka Milivojevic has backed his fellow Serbian Novak Djokovic to be “more angry” at the Australian Open.
“This is a guy who like to play with a lot of pressure. The more pressure you put on him he is going to be better,” Milivojevic told Sky Sports.
“If he plays Australian Open, he already has pressure before because everyone expects Djokovic to win that 21st title and to be in a place where nobody has been before.
“With all this situation that is happening at the moment they are going to make him more angry and more sharp to go for the 10th Australian Open title.”
Djokovic could be arrested by armed police and dragged from tennis court
Novak Djokovic has been warned that he could be led off a tennis court in cuffs by armed police if his visa is cancelled again.
Abul Rizvi, a former Immigration Department Deputy Secretary, has explained the extreme lengths that Border Force officials go to during deportation cases.
“The cancellation notice [would be] taken by Australian Border Force who usually dress in very, very dark uniforms and often carry guns turning up to Mr Djokovic’s hotel or on the tennis court,” he told Channel 10’s The Project.
“Taking Mr Djokovic away from the tennis court, most probably in the glare of the world’s media to a detention centre where Mr Djokovic would remain whilst he sought any application for judicial or other review processes.
“There is no easy option here. Cancellation is difficult and not cancelling is difficult.”
WHO weigh in
The World Health Organisation appears to have sided with Djokovic by insisting countries should not mandate vaccines.
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said: “We see mandates as a last resort … in the face of a large epidemic.
“So yes, there are circumstances in which vaccine mandates are supported by WHO but, again, it is subjected to the basic principle that the best way to get people vaccinated is to inform them, to educate, to have a dialogue and to address people’s genuine concerns.
“We always ask that those mandates be clear, be explicit, be time-limited and at the same time … governments continue to explain to people why they’re doing things and continue to try and convince people of the benefits of vaccine rather than reverting to mandates as a single approach.”
Djokovic ‘will be booted out’
Immigration minister Alex Hawke has reportedly already made up his mind and will deport Djokovic on Thursday.
Australia’s The Saturday Paper journalist Paul Bongiorno, who has deep contacts in Australian politics, tweeted: “I am hearing @AlexHawkeMP will boot out the Joker tomorrow.”
Becker criticises Djokovic family
Novak Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker thinks the world No 1’s father did not help in his pursuit for freedom after regularly criticising the Australian state.
“The father certainly overreached the goal,” Becker said on Eurosport Germany’s Das Gelbe vom Ball podcast.
“He will certainly regret some of the statements he made four or five days ago.
“The fact that statements were made by his family didn’t exactly help him. His parents are very emotional – and his brother too, that’s not always understandable.”
Djokovic to be booed
Eurosport pundit Barbara Schett has told Express Sport that she expects Novak Djokovic to be booed when he steps out on court next week.
“When he steps out on the court, if he plays now the Australian Open or not, I think also for him it will be interesting to see how the crowd will respond to that whole thing and I have a feeling, if he plays in Melbourne, if he gets to go out there on the court, the reception won’t be great,” Schett told Express Sport.
“I think there will be a lot of people who won’t support him. There’s a big Serbian community in Melbourne and they will be obviously 100 per cent behind him but for the rest I think it’ll be very controversial and I think there could be a bit of booing happening or something like that.
“That’s my gut feeling, that’s the feeling I have from being here in Australia. I mean we’ll find out, I thought the Immigration Minister was going to come out with a statement today (Wednesday) but I think it’s going to be tomorrow (Thursday) by the sounds of it, or it has to come out in the next few days.”
Tennys Sandgren wants Australia stripped of Grand Slam
Tennys Sandgren, who refused to travel to Australia because he is unvaccinated, wants the country stripped of the Grand Slam if Novak Djokovic’s visa is overturned again.
“If Djokovic is deported after a judge grants him the visa and the medical exemption was cleared, it’s clearly political,” he said.
“At that point I don’t think Australia should be hosting a Grand Slam.”
Robin Haase reacts
Former world No 33 Robin Haase, who was a member of the ATP’s player council alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic until he resigned in 2019, has delivered his verdict on Djokovic.
Australian Open draw
As things stand Novak Djokovic is practicing in anticipation for the Australian Open, which gets underway on Monday.
The draw is due to take place at 4am GMT tomorrow morning and there are host of potential first-round banana skins.
Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios are two of the unseeded players who could face the world No 1 in the opening match – and matches those would be!
Barbara Schett exclusive
Eurosport pundit Barbara Schett has told Express Sport that Novak Djokovic will be the favourite to win the Australian Open if his visa is not revoked.
“It all depends if he [Djokovic] can play the Australian Open now or not,” the former world No 7 said.
“I mean we all know he’s won the Australian Open that many times, more than anybody else. You would put him in as the favourite obviously.”
On Nadal, Schett added: “Rafa Nadal, he won one of the lead-up tournaments. I’m not quite sure if he’s ready yet on a hard court to go all the way at a Grand Slam but you can never rule him out, he’s super motivated.
“I would think Rafa Nadal at the French Open is going to be the favourite once again.”
Hawke’s colleagues split on Djokovic
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s colleagues in the Australian parliament are said to be split on whether to allow Djokovic to play the Australian Open, say the Independent.
Hawke is set to make a decision on Djokovic’s involvement in the Grand Slam inside the next 48 hours.
He has the power to revoke the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s visa Down Under despite the ruling of a judge earlier this week that Djokovic should be allowed to play.
The Australian Open main draw will meanwhile be conducted on Thursday. It is expected to be made at around 4am tonight UK time.
Further to that last update, the co-presidents of the International Tennis Writers Association have released a statement.
They call it “deeply worrying” that Djokovic did not inform the member of the L’Equipe team that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
L’Equipe journalist speaks
The French journalist who interviewed Novak Djokovic for L’Equipe in Belgrade last month after the world No 1 had knowingly tested positive for Covid claims he wasn’t informed of Djokovic’s infection.
Franck Ramella says he only found out about the positive test when the Serb was detained at Melbourne Airport when first arriving with his medical exemption.
Djokovic said in his statement: “I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but I did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.”
But Ramella says it was news to him that the Serbian had coronavirus, having had a 33-minute sit-down interview with him.
Ramella also added that he has tested negative himself this week before flying out to Australia.
Djokovic labelled ‘selfish’
Portuguese player Joao Sousa has branded Djokovic “selfish” for not getting the vaccine and turning up at the Australian Open anyway.
Sousa suggests some players have had to get the jab despite not wanting to just so they can continue to compete in tournaments.
The world No 140 told A Bola: “I respect that he fights for what he believes and I can be empathetic with what he is going through in Australia.
“But it’s a bit selfish from him to arrive here as the only player unvaccinated. It’s tough for us players to accept that.
“Many players, not in my case, didn’t want to get vaccinated and were forced to do it to be able to play tournaments. He is finding a way around those rules.”
Djokovic deportation decision date
9news Melbourne’s Reid Butler has said a deportation decision is expected tomorrow (Thursday).
The Australian Open is due to get underway this coming Monday with the world No 1 still not certain whether or not he will be allowed to play the Grand Slam.
You can see Butler’s full report below.
Henman has his say
Former men’s British No 1 has had his say on the Djokovic drama, and expects the Serb to face a “hostile” crowd if he plays the Australian Open.
But he believes the 20-time Grand Slam champion has a great chance of defending his title, if he’s allowed to.
Henman told Eurosport: “I don’t think in my opinion Djokovic will be well received when he goes on the court.
“I think that’s unfortunate for the tournament. It’s a great event in Australia and they’ve had their challenges over the last couple of years.
“I hope it’s not a cloud that remains over the tournament. Knowing Djokovic’s attitude, he seems to thrive within that sort of confrontation though.
“It’s obviously not the ideal preparation to be stuck in a room for four or five days but I’m sure he’s very relieved to be out and excited about the opportunity.
“Given his record in Melbourne, having won nine times, he is going to be he’s going be very difficult to beat I think.”
7 News caught slating Djokovic
7News Melbourne presenters Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor have been caught on camera laying into Djokovic.
The pair were talking at their newsdesk during an ad break and were not aware they were being filmed.
Maddern said: “Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky a***hole.”
Amor replies: “That’s it, he’s an a**hole. He got a bullsh*t f*****g excuse and then fell over his own f*****g lies. It’s just what happens, right, that’s what happened.”
The clip of the incident is below.
Novak Djokovic slammed by 7News hosts in leaked video
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Vaccine proof out, antibody tests in?
Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, the Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory and leading Covid testing expert, has suggested amid the Djokovic drama that it might be time to start using antibody tests at borders instead.
Dr Fivelman says: “Proof of vaccination is far less effective at indicating if a person might introduce Covid to a country or competition than a simple five-minute antibody test, especially if there is significant time since their last jab.
“Antibody tests are an excellent indicator of the likelihood of someone developing Covid. Extensive research has shown that the more COVID-19 antibodies a person has, the more protection they have from the virus over time and the less likely they are to be infected or re-infected with the virus.
“In the case of Djokovic, even though he has gone on record as saying he ‘wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine’, he may not be a present danger to other players or the wider Australian public if he did have COVID-19 during December, as he claims.
“An antibody test will establish if he has sufficient antibodies to provide resistance to catching COVID-19 and potentially transmitting it over the next few weeks.
“We all have our own opinions of whether people should be inoculated and, indeed, I certainly believe everyone should. However, antibody testing bypasses ideological disputes by establishing whether a person is likely to catch Covid-19 and then, possibly, transmit it in the near future.
“Why can’t we use this as a basic criteria for admitting someone into a country, a sporting competition, or any other kind of large group event?
“The Australian Government, Tennis Australia and Mr Djokovic have all played their part in escalating what should be a simple black and white question: could Djokovic potentially develop and then spread Covid at the event?
“Rather than complicated red tape and political grandstanding, antibody tests are a straightforward and impartial way to establish if someone is fit to enter a country or a competition.”
Djokovic’s unanswered questions
There are still some things unknown despite Djokovic’s lengthy overnight statement.
The Tennis Podcast – in which Catherine Whitaker, David Law and Matt Roberts – discuss all the sport’s latest news – raise a few important questions in particular here.
Serbian PM wants decision soon
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic wants it to be announced quickly whether or not Novak Djokovic will be allowed to play in the Australian Open.
She said: “I hope that final decision will be announced soon.
“Uncertainty is not good for any of the stakeholders, neither Djokovic nor the Australian Open.”
Brnabic added: “In the end, they made public a part of Novak’s medical documentation, which I am not even sure was fair on their part to make it public.
“Because it is not fair to make anyone’s medical documentation public, unless they had Novak’s explicit consent for that.”
Gary Lineker’s jab
If Piers Morgan is weighing in, expect Gary Lineker to as well!
The Match of the Day host and former England footballer has also taken shots at Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his latest post.
Piers Morgan’s scathing rant
Piers Morgan has not held back in his reaction to Novak Djokovic’s statement.
Quote-tweeting the Serb’s post, Morgan wrote: “So, you lied on Australian immigration forms (and have now chucked some poor aide under a double-decker for it), brazenly broke Serbian covid rules, and deliberately endangered other people’s health.
“Yet you have the gall to moan about ‘misinformation’ ?”
Djokovic desperate to play
Djokovic insists he’s eager to play in front of “one of the best crowds in the world”.
The Serb is of course the Grand Slam’s reigning champion and a nine-time winner at the event.
He said: “It is always an honour and a privilege to play in the Australian Open.
“The Australian Open is much-loved by players, fans and the community, not just in Victoria and in Australia, but around the globe.
“And I just want to have the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world and perform before one of the best crowds in the world.”
But will he get the chance to do so?
Djokovic investigation widened by officials
Australian immigration officials are looking into a multitude of issues pertaining to Djokovic’s positive Covid test and travel to Australia.
That’s the information coming from The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
It’s said the Department of Home Affairs’ investigation into Djokovic has now been widened.
It will include not just a look at the incorrect statement on his travel entry form and inconsistencies of the date of when he tested positive for Covid but also his breach of isolation while in Serbia.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision whether or not to re-cancel the tennis player’s visa could be informed by the Home Affairs investigation’s findings.
Mr Hawke is currently considering whether to scrap his visa based on the grounds that his medical exemption, being infected with Covid in the last six months, is not a valid reason not to have the vaccine.
Djokovic’s mum speaks out on isolation breach
Djokovic’s mother Dijana has offered an excuse for her son being spotted in public when he should have been isolating after testing positive for Covid.
She told Australian breakfast show Sunrise: “He didn’t know, probably, he didn’t know.
“He realised he was positive and then he went to isolate. I really can’t say anything about that, maybe the best is to ask him.”
However, Djokovic said in his statement: “The next day, on December 18 I was at my tennis centre in Belgrade to fulfil a long-standing commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photoshoot. I cancelled all other events except for the L’Equipe interview.
“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.
“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”
Djokovic could face five-year prison sentence
In his statement, Djokovic says he wasn’t aware of his positive PCR result until December 17.
But in an affidavit to the federal circuit court, it was said he was “tested and diagnosed” on December 16.
And according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Home Affairs Department are currently looking into the discrepancy.
The penalty for giving false evidence under the Crimes Act, it is said, is a prison sentence of five years.
It had already been reported that Djokovic could face a maximum possible jail term of 12 months for providing “false or misleading information” to the government.
That’s because he said had not travelled in the 14 days before flying to Australia, which has proven to be false.
He was in Serbia and Spain before landing in Melbourne on January 5.
Djokovic blames agent for visa error
In his statement, Djokovic blamed his agent for an “administrative mistake” as he admitted his forms were incorrect.
They had stated the 34-year-old had not travelled in the two weeks before his flight to Australia.
The Serb wrote: “On the issue of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf – as I told immigration officials on my arrival – and my agent sincerely apologies for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia.”
He added: “This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur.
“Today, my team has provided additional information to the Australian Government to clarify this matter.”
Djokovic addresses ‘misinformation’
Novak Djokovic released a lengthy statement on Instagram to clear up “misinformation” about his activities after testing positive for Covid.
He said: “This is misinformation which needs to be corrected, particularly in the interest of alleviating broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia, and to address matters which are very hurtful and concerning to my family.
“I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations.”
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