Australia’s government toughens tone on Djokovic

AThe government of Australia has again strongly criticized Novak Djokovic’s behavior. Immigration Secretary Alex Hawke portrayed the nine-time Australian Open winner as a public health and public order threat a day ahead of his possible whereabouts trial Down Under. As reported by Australia-based liberal daily The Age, The 44-year-old politician fears the behavior of the number one in tennis that a mood against vaccination could develop in the country.

Djokovic’s actions, Hawke said in the article, have the potential to undermine the government’s response to the pandemic. In particular, it “could encourage or influence others to mimic its past behavior and not follow appropriate health measures after a positive corona test, which in turn could lead to transmission of the disease and pose a serious risk to their health and that of others.”

The Australian minister was referring to the Serb’s admission on December 18, 2021 that he took part in a media interview and photo shoot with children in his home country, a day after his positive PCR test was confirmed. “Djokovic is an influential and respected person. In light of the facts set out above regarding his conduct, publicly expressed views and unvaccinated status, I believe his continued presence in Australia may encourage others to disregard the public health advice and policies in or in Australia to act contrary to them.”

Novak Djokovic at the tennis training in Melbourne on January 13, 2022

Build: AP

Hawke referred to the increasing number of cases in Australia due to the new virus variant Omicron. The Liberal Party politician also argued that the Serb’s continued presence could lead to an increase in unrest, as has already happened. Hawke was referring to protests over Djokovic’s participation in the Australian Open. “They, in turn, can be a source of virus transmission to the community.”

Djokovic and his lawyer Nicholas Wood are expecting the decisive court hearing on Sunday. Wood had previously strongly criticized Hawke himself. “We are where we are because the minister took so much time,” the lawyer said two days ago, before attacking the minister: “A well-known person who poses a low risk to the public and has a medical exemption”, he wants to identify. Of course, he meant his client Djokovic. Wood also complained that Hawke and the Australian government were now using a very different argument for revoking Djokovic’s visa than border officials did when he arrived.

It is still unclear how the conflict between the Serbian tennis star and the Australian government will end. Djokovic is said to be at the immigration office and had to appear there for a hearing. After that, he could go back to the deportation hotel before a final hearing is scheduled for Sunday.

If participation in the Australian Open is allowed, Djokovic would have to play against compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday. He could then win his tenth title in the so-called Grand Slam tournament.