London, 14 January 2022 (PA Media/dpa/MIA) — Novak Djokovic’s defense of his Australian Open title remains in doubt after Australian immigration officials canceled his visa for the second time.
Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to challenge the dramatic decision taken by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday, the day after the nine-time champion was drawn to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.
Here, the PA and dpa news agencies take a look at the how the saga has unfolded:
Dec. 10: The day marks the deadline for unvaccinated players to request a medical exemption in order to compete at the Australian Open January 17-30.
Dec. 16: Novak Djokovic takes part at a Serbian postal service event in his honor. He learns of a coronavirus infection in the evening, with a positive PCR test from that day part of the documents his legal team hands to Australian authorities. According to Serbian pandemic rules people who test positive and have no severe symptoms must isolate at home for 14 days.
Dec. 17: Djokovic, who resides in Monaco, takes part in an awards ceremony for young tennis players in Belgrade, without a mask and social distancing.
Dec. 18: Djokovic has a photo shooting with French sports paper L’Equipe.
Dec. 22: Djokovic has undergone another test which according to him is negative.
Dec. 30: According to his lawyers, Djokovic receives a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open from the medical chief of Australia’s tennis federation.
End of 2021/Early 2022: Social media footage shows Djokovic at a tennis club in Marbella, Spain.
Jan. 4: Djokovic tweets he is on his way to the Australian Open under a medical exemption. He writes on Instagram: “I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!!”
Jan. 5: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warns Djokovic he will be on the “next plane home” if his medical exemption is deemed insufficient, and is adamant Djokovic will not receive preferential treatment. Djokovic’s visa is canceled upon his arrival in Melbourne. The Australian Border Force announces that the player “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements for Australia.”
Jan. 6: Djokovic is sent to the Park Hotel in Melbourne after being refused a visa. He launches an appeal, which is adjourned until 10 am on Jan. 10. Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic says Djokovic is the victim of “persecution.” Djokovic’s father says his son is imprisoned in Melbourne and compares him to Jesus at a news conference. “Jesus was crucified and had to endure many things but still remains alive among us. Novak is also crucified who is the best sportsman and man in the world. He will endure”, he said.
Jan. 9: Djokovic’s lawyers claim he was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he recorded a positive Covid-19 test in Serbia on Dec. 16. However, social media posts suggest he attended a number of social events in the days following his apparent diagnosis.
Jan. 10: A Melbourne court upholds Djokovic’s appeal and nullifies the visa cancellation over procedural issues. Judge Anthony Kelly orders the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic from detention within half an hour. Djokovic says he is “pleased and grateful” and wishes to “stay and try to compete.” He trains on the Australian Open center court a little later. The case is not over because Immigration Minister Alex Hawke can still cancel his visa again.
Jan. 11: Djokovic’s title defense remains in doubt as the Australian Immigration Minister ponders whether to override the court’s ruling, reportedly due to an alleged misleading claim made by Djokovic on his entry form relating to his movements in the 14 days prior to arrival in Australia.
Jan. 12: Djokovic admits making an “error of judgement” by attending an interview with a French journalist while Covid positive. He adds that, although he attended a children’s tennis event the day after being tested, he did not receive notification of the positive test until after the event.
Jan. 13: Djokovic is drawn to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.
Jan. 14: Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancels Djokovic’s visa for a second time, saying in a statement it was “on health and good order grounds.” The tennis world number one will have an emergency court hearing, however. The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia tweeted “Novak Djokovic v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs” would take place at 8.45 pm (0945 GMT).