Detention, political grub and Spartacus … Can Djoko still save his image?

There is something lunar about the scene. Thursday, from the Park Hotel in Melbourne, at 701 Swanson Street, where he has been held since leaving the airport, Novak Djokovic appeared at the window to give a first sign of life to his Serbian fans who came to support him. Hands clasped in prayer, a heart with fingers and big poutous sent to the crowd, the world number 1 greets his supporters, as a prisoner deprived of a visiting room would kiss his wife, from afar, through the bars of his cell .

This image of a Djoko locked in a hotel reserved for the reception of refugees and asylum seekers – and culinary practices that are said to be closer to Fleury-Mérogis than to Georges V – would (almost) have something to tear us away from a little teardrop. A shame for the one who, just 24 hours ago, had become public enemy number 1 after his Instagram post announcing, all smiles, his coming to the Australian Open despite his non-vaccination against Covid-19, in a country that has been bleeding for two years to limit the spread of the virus.

But that was before. Before he was denied access to Australian territory by the border police, despite the medical exemption validated by the Australian Open shortly before. “He was held up at the airport for a whole night, isolated in a room guarded by police officers without even the right to have his phone with him, it’s incredible. No one can be treated this way! », Protested Saša Ozmo, journalist for the Serbian media Sportklub. So, could the unfriendly manner in which Djoko is treated by the Australian authorities be likely to alleviate the mixed feelings of the general public towards him? This is the bet made by his father, Srdjan, who jumped at the opportunity to make the son a martyr of the cause. Which ? It cannot be said too much, however.

Spartacus, Jesus, so on and the best

“My son is captive tonight in Australia but he has never been so free. Novak has become the symbol and leader of the free world, the world of poor and disadvantaged nations and peoples, he told the Serbian newspaper Telegraph, Wednesday evening, in its customary verve. We can jail him tonight, we can chain him tomorrow, but truth is like water and it always finds its way. Novak is the Spartacus of the new world who does not tolerate injustice, colonialism and hypocrisy, but fights for the equality of all people on the planet, whatever the color of their skin, whatever the God they pray and the money they have ”. Take this, Martin Luther King! Since then, the Djoko clan has decided to exploit the vein to the end, going so far as to call a press conference on Thursday, during which Djoko was this time compared to Jesus. himself.

Viktor Troïcki, like the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, has since joined the ranks of the revolution, explaining to our colleagues The team that “no athlete (…) has ever been treated in this way, tortured in some way”. For the coach of the Serbian Davis Cup team, this “huge scandal has nothing to do with tennis or sport, it’s just political. The Australian Federal Government has decided to show its power and set an example. It must be admitted that this affair smacks of national political grub, a few months before the federal election, between a federal government politically on the right and the state of Victoria in the hands of the left.

By going in the direction of Australian public opinion, outraged to see a privilege granted to an unvaccinated person when it has had to undergo severe health restrictions since the start of the pandemic (Melbourne, in particular, has experienced 6 confinements since the start of 2020), Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused by pros-Novaks of wanting to afford the star inexpensively for electoral purposes.

Ultra-light documentation according to the Australian press

The ultimate proof, according to Troïcki (and the entire Djokovic clan)? The fact that “three [autres] players who had the same exemption as him were able to enter the country, which he was prohibited from. The problem, to believe The Age, the national daily best informed on the subject, it is that the Serb would have traveled hyperligger from the point of view of the documentation supposed to justify his medical exemption. This one would indeed have provided only meager medical proof of his infection prior to Covid issued by a single doctor, when the other worms finally authorized to enter Australian soil had the support of several doctors.

However, according to the Franco-Australian journalist Christophe Mallet, stationed in Melbourne for eighteen years, the country’s authorities are not messing with the administration, even less in times of pandemic. “The exemptions to enter or leave the territory are extremely complicated to obtain,” he tells us. A very good friend of mine requested one to go to his mother’s bedside in Switzerland who had just had a stroke. It was refused to him, he appealed, again refused. There you go, that shows the violence of the restrictions that we have experienced over the past two years. “

A fan of the Djoker was present at Melbourne airport to support his idol, who was blocked by border police overnight. – Hamish Blair / AP / SIPA

Truncated preparation, icy welcome, Djoko is (maybe) not at the end of his troubles

For now, it is impossible to say if the treatment inflicted on the man with the twenty grand slams will allow him to come out of this soap opera with less dirty buttocks than expected. Mocked for his response from Normand when a journalist questioned him on the subject at a press conference, Daniil Medvedev is nevertheless the one who best summed up this merry mess: “If his exemption was justified and in order, then he has the right to be there. Otherwise, he has no right ”. Indeed, everything will depend on the decision of the judges to grant or not a visa to the player. They will deliver their verdict next Monday, around 10 a.m. If we learn that Djoko had scrupulously followed the process and provided all the necessary documentation, then it will be time to let go and blame it on the amateurism of the Australian authorities.

What we are sure, if this happens, is that the preparation of the player will suffer the consequences, yet he is seeking the world record for the most major titles against Nadal and Federer (20 each for the moment). One night in an airport closet, four nights at the Park Hotel without the possibility of training, we must admit that there is better to prepare for such an event … And what will happen to the reception than will the Australian public reserve for him, he who would have gladly sent him back to Belgrade with a pump in the train? “It shouldn’t turn into a provax / antivax, Serbs vs Australians fight, breathes Christophe Mallet. What is certain is that we risk attending scenes that we do not want to see. In addition, the slogan of the tournament this year was “United by play”, united by the game, for the game, it is sadly ironic … “

Moreover, that the Djoker is reassured, this politico-sporting imbroglio will have little chance to (re) occur at Roland Garros. According to The Parisian, the French government would have decided to avoid such a mess by allowing the non-vaccinated to compete in certain major events such as the Champions League or the Parisian ocher tournament if they respected a strict health bubble. What will not fail to make scream in the French thatched cottages either, but it is not the debate of the day. One controversy at a time, please.