Novak Djokovic back on court as investigations continue

Novak Djokovic’s preparations for the Australian Open continued on Wednesday as the question of his presence in the country remained unresolved. Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, continues to deliberate over whether or not he should revoke Djokovic’s visa.

On Wednesday afternoon, Djokovic returned for his third practice at Melbourne Park since he was released from immigration detention. With a small contingent of media present, Djokovic trained with the Australian youngster Tristan Schoolkate and he continued to ease himself back into practice, working through a series of drills.

Djokovic had previously ensured his practises were closed to onlookers, with the doors of Rod Laver Arena locked during his sessions and the live feed from the arena turned off.

At the same time the world No 1 was practising, he published a statement on Instagram addressing the pictures of him attending an award presentation for children – “I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event” – and an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe after he had tested positive for Covid-19.

According to The Age newspaper in Melbourne, the Department of Home Affairs is investigating the various issues Djokovic addressed in his social media post – his incorrect Australia Travel Declaration, his reported failure to comply with Covid-19 rules in Serbia and questions about the date of his Covid test – in addition to Hawke’s investigation into his medical exemption.

The reception from Djokovic’s colleagues continues to be mixed. João Sousa, a Portuguese veteran and longtime top 100 player, described Djokovic’s attitude as “a little selfish” towards his fellow players, a top 100 field that is now 97% vaccinated according to the ATP.

“I can put myself in his shoes and understand what he’s going through,” he said. “I understand that it’s what he believes in, but it’s a little selfish towards his colleagues in the profession because many of us – not me – didn’t want to get vaccinated and we had to do it in order to play. It was the rules. It turns out to be a rule that Djokovic managed to get around.”

At a time when politicians have been roundly critical of Djokovic, a sympathetic voice has come in the form of Matt Canavan, a National party senator, who stressed the necessity of de-escalating the situation.

“I don’t want to live in a world of strict bureaucracy when if we make a mistake on a form we are hauled off to jail. If there’s been an error or a lie, he needs to be questioned again and see how or why that happened,” he said, according to Bola Amarela.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Tennis Association has addressed the deportation of Renata Voracova, the Czech doubles specialist who was detained by Australian Border Force and deported after Djokovic’s run-in with the authorities.

“Renata Voracova followed these rules and procedures, was cleared for entry upon her arrival, competed in an event and then suddenly had her visa cancelled when she had done nothing wrong,” said the WTA.

Unlike Djokovic, Voracova has placed blame on Tennis Australia and in a recent interview with AFP she said she expects compensation from the governing body.


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