How the ‘Djokovic Affair’ Finally Came to an End

What happened?

SYDNEY, Australia – A daytime before the beginning of the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic, the most prominent tennis player of all time, met a group of determined opponents who could not be defeated by talent, training, money or willpower. He lost his latest bid to stay in Australia on Sunday when a three-judge jury upheld the government’s decision to annul his visa. 

More generally, he lost out to a government determined to make him a symbol of the right to ungrafted glory; to the immigration law, which confers divine authority on the control of borders; and with public outrage in a rule-following country over what many saw as Mr Djokovic’s reckless disregard for others after he said he tested positive for Covid last month and yet met two journalists.  

“+ the point, it’s around colonial standards and enforcing those norms to continue to convince people to move in the same direction to overcome this pandemic,” said Brock Bastian, professor of social psychology at the University of Melbourne. “In this culture, in this country, the feeling of suddenly abandoning these rules has a great political and social cost.” 

It wasn’t until the insane third year of the pandemic that a person’s vaccination status could have mattered so much. For more than a week now, the world has been in awe of the conflict over the controversial swinger racket, filled with legal minutiae and dramatic ups and downs. Supporters of Novak Djokovic listened to the trial on Sunday in the Federal Court of Australia in Melbourne. 

On Sunday morning in Australia, more than 84,000 people watched the live broadcast of the federal court hearing, with many of them allegedly tuned in from other countries.    

What they saw was the bizarre final scene of the saga in court: a six-panel videoconference with lengthy discussions in small light-wood rooms about whether the immigration minister had acted rationally in exercising his powers of detention and expulsion.

 Chief Justice James Alsop announced the decision shortly before 6 p.m., explaining that the court did not rule on the merits of Mr Djokovic’s position or whether the government was right to argue that it could influence others to resist vaccinations or defy health orders. 

 Instead, based on that possibility, the court simply found that the Minister of Immigration had the right to revoke the tennis star’s visa a second time.   

A few days earlier, Mr Djokovic’s lawyers had secured a stay of his first visa revocation, just hours after arriving at Melbourne airport on 5 January. Friday morning, he appeared to be on track to challenge for a tenth Australian Open title and a record 21st Grand Slam.   

But that initial case never progressed beyond procedure, focusing on how Mr Djokovic was treated at the airport when detained overnight by border guards. In the second round, his lawyers argued that the government used flawed logic to insist that their client’s presence would activate anti-vaccination groups, making him a public health threat. Indeed, they said, the anti-vaccine sentiment would be exacerbated by his expulsion, citing protests following the cancellation of his first visa.   

“The minister is looking for a straw,” said Nicholas Wood, one of Djokovic’s lawyers. The alternative scenario — that the deportation would empower anti-vaccinationists — “was not considered,” he said. 

Reporters outside the office of Djokovic’s legal team on Saturday. For more than a week, the world has been in awe of the conflict full of legal details and dramatic ups and downs. Reporters outside the office of Djokovic’s legal team on Saturday. 

Mr Wood also disputed the government’s claim that Mr Djokovic, 34, was a prominent supporter of the opposition to vaccination. The only comments cited in the government court document are from April 2020, when vaccines had not yet been developed, he said. Since then, his lawyers added, Mr Djokovic has tried to say very little about his vaccination status, which he only confirmed on his medical exemption paperwork in Australia.  

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“The Minister had no evidence that Mr Djokovic ever urged others not to get vaccinated,” they wrote in a court document ahead of Sunday’s hearing. “Indeed, if anything, Mr Djokovic’s behaviour over time is indicative of a zealous defence of his privacy rather than any defence.” The matter, however, eventually fell to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke and his personal views. Judge Alsop pointed out in court that Australian immigration law has a broad mandate: evidence can simply include the “perception and common sense” of the decision-maker.    

Stephen Lloyd, supporting the government, told the court that it was perfectly reasonable for the Minister of Immigration to be concerned about the flu from an “unvaccinated VIP” who may have already been vaccinated but did not. He added that concerns about Mr Djokovic’s exposure extend beyond vaccination, noting that Mr Djokovic did not self-isolate after claiming a positive Covid test in mid-December but instead met with two reporters in Belgrade. The government, Lloyd said, was concerned that Australians were emulating his disdain for standard Covid safety rules if they were allowed to stay.   

Mr Djokovic trains Friday at Melbourne Park. Many Australians feel that they should not have travelled without being vaccinated. Mr Djokovic trains Friday at Melbourne Park. “His connection to the case, whether he likes it or not, is still there,” Mr Lloyd said. “And his presence in Australia was seen as a huge risk, and that’s what motivated the minister.” 

The court sided with the government, announcing its decision without immediately specifying the motives.   

Novak Djokovic has been denied entry to Australia due to doubts over Covid vaccine exemption. After appealing the verdict in court, the judge allowed him in. Authorities then revoked his visa again, and when a three-judge jury upheld the decision, he lost his last offer to stay. The stalemate began when Djokovic was granted a waiver that would allow him to defend his Australian Open title. Upon arrival, federal officials said he was ineligible to enter because he had not been vaccinated and cancelled his visa.    

For more than a week, the world has been in awe of the conflict surrounding the controversial tennis star, filled with legal details and dramatic ups and downs. Ultimately, Djokovic lost to a government with solid laws determined to follow his example. The standoff underscores a public outcry against prominent vaccine sceptics such as Djokovic, who want to play by different rules than others at a difficult time in Australia’s battle against Covid. It’s unclear what will happen next on the big men’s tour, but the stalemate in Australia suggests that Djokovic could face some headwinds if he tries to travel the world without a Covid-19 vaccine. ‘

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed the decision (“strong borders are the key to the Australian way of life,” he said), some legal scholars have argued that the end result and the hesitation that preceded it should be something to be ashamed of. in Australia. “This saga has exposed many long-standing flaws and injustices in the Australian system: overly strict, Byzantine and unpredictable entry rules, but paradoxically special treatment through exceptions for the rich and famous,” said Ben Saul, professor of international law at the Australian University. 

University of Sydney. He added that the case showed that the Minister of Immigration’s “divine powers” are essential “not subject to scrutiny by the courts” and often lead to “unnecessary, intrusive and cruel detentions of foreigners.” Human rights lawyers have suggested that the reason for the visa cancellation, made amid an election year by a government trying to deal with the latest Covid epidemic, could also lead to a crackdown on free speech later.   

Mr Djokovic said he was “extremely disappointed” by the court’s decision, but he would comply and leave the country. In Serbia, this decision caused a new round of disrespect.   

“The behaviour of the Australian government towards him was absolutely shameful,” Vuk Jeremic, Serbia’s foreign minister from 2007 to 2012, who later served as president of the UN General Assembly, wrote in an email. He called the whole case an example of politicized bullying. “Novak is a victim of the risk of corruption by unscrupulous populists who are guided solely by impromptu public opinion polls,” he said. 

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