Melbourne – Three days before the start of the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic is still waiting for a decision on his visa to Australia and the possibility of defending his title.
As of Friday afternoon local time in Melbourne, there was still no signal from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on whether he will use his personal right to invalidate the Serbian tennis pro’s visa because he has not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Meanwhile, the world number one trained early in the day instead of in the afternoon as originally planned.
“Absolute mess “
From Australian politics, Hawke is getting heat for procrastinating for so long. “Alex Hawke, where are they? Missing?” asked Senator Jacqui Lambie, according to Australian news agency AAP . “If you can’t make a decision on Novak Djokovic, my goodness, how do you people run the country? It’s an absolute mess.” Continuing, she said Djokovic should be sent packing if he had broken the rules.
The decision by Australian authorities on whether Djokovic will be allowed to stay in the country and compete in the Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne from Monday is eagerly awaited. Last week, the 34-year-old was denied entry into the country because he has not been vaccinated against the coronavirus and the authorities did not have sufficient documentation of his medical exemption. However, because border officials had not given him the agreed time to clarify, the decision was provisionally overturned by a judge on Monday.
Hawke continues to remain silent
There continues to be no comment from Hawke. Australian journalists report that there is talk from his circle that there is a tendency to invalidate Djokovic’s visa – but that was nothing more than rumours until this afternoon.
After the fiasco for the government in the first court case, when Djokovic’s visa had to be handed back because of a formal error, the minister apparently wants to make a decision this time that will withstand the objections that Djokovic’s lawyers are sure to make in case he is deported again.
The pressure on Hawke is great from many sides. The mood in Australia – with the exception of the Serbian community – is clearly against Djokovic. Many Australians have experienced many hardships in what is now almost two years of the pandemic.
“I definitely understand the people here. They’ve really had a tough time over the last two years,” said German number one Angelique Kerber, speaking cautiously. “Rules are rules and they apply to everybody, whether you’re number one or a qualifier,” said the 33-year-old from Kiel. “I also hope that there will be nice and positive news about the sport again soon. “