“A Czech player, who had the same papers as Novak, is also being deported. Novak does not want to withdraw but to see justice done for him and everyone else.”
If Djokovic or any other player or official has their visa cancelled, an Australian Border Force spokesperson has said they may not face a three-year ban from coming back to the country, with officials able to waive any ban on a case-by-case basis.
“Migration legislation provides that a person whose visa has been cancelled may be subject to a three-year exclusion period that prevents the grant of a further temporary visa,” an ABF spokesperson said.
“The exclusion period will be considered as part of any new visa application and can be waived in certain circumstances, noting each case is assessed on its own merits.”
Djokovic can play Roland-Garros, says French Sports Minister
French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu told radio station FranceInfo that Djokovic would not need to be vaccinated in order to play the grand slam in Paris.
“There are health protocols imposed for major events by the relevant federations which would permit someone like Novak Djokovic to enter the country,” Maracineanu said.
“In France today we do not have the same regulations as Australia for entry to the country, either for athletes or any citizens from other countries.
“An athlete who is unvaccinated can compete in an event because the protocol, the health bubble for these major events, permits that.”
She said he would not have the same “arrangements” as those who are vaccinated.
Maracineanu’s comments come after French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to “piss off” the unvaccinated and make their lives difficult to encourage them to get the jab.
Djokovic supporters rally
Hundreds of Djokovic supporters rallied in Belgrade, Serbia on Friday local time to protest his detention.
His father Srdjan Djokovic described his son’s struggle to play at the Australian Open as a fight against “globalists who want to ruin everything”.
“He is fighting for himself, his people and all freedom-loving nations in the world,” Srdjan Djokovic said.
“They hate him because Australian politicians have put pressure on people to hate him because he thinks with his own brain.”
Djokovic’s father also said Australians “have been in captivity for two years,” referring to lockdowns during the pandemic.
“He [Djokovic] is in prison, not in custody, not in a hotel,” Srdan Djokovic said.
“They took away all his things, took away his wallet, and returned it to him after a few hours.”
Djordje also said his brother was laughing on Serbian Orthodox Christmas Day despite being stuck in a hotel room.
“He went through all phases,” Djordje said.
“He was angry, unhappy, sad and now he is ironically laughing. He is peaceful today and today at Christmas he decided not to bother with ‘he said, she said’ but leave the authorities to do their work and determine the facts.”
‘An onslaught on my psyche’
Czech player Renata Voracova believed the focus on Djokovic’s entry to Australia led to her being detained by authorities after initially being allowed into the country despite being unvaccinated.
Voracova spoke with Czech outlet idnes.cz overnight describing the shock of being put into hotel detention.
She said she wasn’t against vaccination but wasn’t able to get the shot before coming to Australia due to contracting COVID-19 in recent months.
“I was busy. I planned it for weeks after the season and unfortunately … Well, unfortunately now I actually caught COVID at that time,” Voracova said.
“And there was no room for vaccinations because I was to fly to Australia [the] next week.
“I’m not like Djokovic, I’m not completely against vaccination. As I say, our cases are very different.”
Voracova said she was misled by Tennis Australia and was barely challenged by Australian Border Force officials when she first arrived, but her case would take longer to get to court and may not be successful.
“For two days I’ve done almost nothing other than sending emails to lawyers, the Australian Tennis Association, and the people who are in charge of visas [to] help me,” Voracova said.
“I did everything they asked me to do. Apparently, Tennis Australia has misled us, which is annoying. I wanted to focus on tennis, not visas, quarantine. It’s really weird that I spent a week here, played a match and then they came for me.
“It was an onslaught on my psyche. I felt the worst when they told me they would cancel my visa. Even the lawyer sitting there with me said that I had all the necessary confirmations correct.
“They really didn’t act rudely or vulgar. But some quarantine practices are not pleasant. You have to report, everything is allotted. It feels a bit like a prison.”
She described the conditions at the Park Hotel as “not pleasant” and she planned to fly home as soon as she could but was awaiting advice on how to do so.
“I don’t even know it’s the Park ‘Hotel,’” Voracova said.
“They brought me here early in the morning. I’m in the room and I’m not allowed to go anywhere. Conditions are common, the category of a better hostel.
“They checked my health. They brought me food. An escort is guarding me in the hallway.”
Open can still be a safe event for fans: Health Minister
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley believed fans will attend the Australian Open and could do so safely, despite high case numbers in the state.
But he added health officials would continue to work with the tournament to update plans as Victoria continues to deal with the Omicron variant.
“We’re talking with tennis continually to look at their COVID-safe plan,” Foley said on Saturday.
“As we demonstrated at the Ashes Boxing Day Test at the MCG that it is possible, particularly in outdoor venues, to deliver safe events and we are continually looking at how we can update and review COVID-safe plans in the face of changing circumstances.
“We want to deliver that, the Australian Open wants to deliver that, the tennis community wants to deliver that and I’m sure Victorians want to deliver that outcome.”
Foley added he didn’t plan to attend the Open this year due to his workload.
“I’m not planning to go to the tennis this year. I’m a bit busy,” Foley said with a laugh.