The mother of Novak Djokovic is pleading with the Australian government to let her son stay in the country and play at this month’s Australian Open, as tennis fans wait to see if the star’s visa will be cancelled.
- Novak Djokovic’s visa was cancelled by Border Force officials after he arrived in Australia unvaccinated
- The tennis star thought he had a medical exemption allowing him to travel
- A court reinstated his visa on Monday, but it could be cancelled again
“Don’t throw him out. He’s not [a] politician, he is a tennis player. He is not a criminal, he’s not murdered,” Dijana Djokovic told Channel 7’s Sunrise program this morning.
The star player was detained by Australian Border Force officials and kept at a Melbourne immigration hotel for days after he arrived in the country unvaccinated last week.
On Monday the Federal Court heard Djokovic had a medical exemption to play because he had COVID-19 last month.
That exemption had been organised through Tennis Australia and the Victorian government.
But Border Force officials told Djokovic that exemption had not given him permission to enter the country.
However on Monday, the Federal Circuit Court reinstated the athlete’s visa and ordered that he be freed from detention, finding Border Force’s decision to interview Djokovic and cancel his visa was unreasonable in the circumstances.
Since then he has been photographed back on the Melbourne Park courts training.
But Immigration Minister Alex Hawke still has the power to cancel the tennis player’s visa.
This morning Dijana Djokovic said she could not believe what had happened to her son.
“We are not even sleeping,” she said of the stress of the last week on her family.
Ms Djokovic said she felt like she was watching a movie when she saw the online stream of the court hearing.
Ms Djokovic was also asked about social media posts that appeared to show her son out at public events in Serbia with children without a mask on in the days after he contracted COVID-19 in December.
“He didn’t know, probably. He didn’t know because when he realised he was positive he go to isolation because he didn’t know,” his mother said.
“I really cannot say anything about that. It’s maybe the best to ask him.”
She said she did not understand why her son could not play without being vaccinated.
“If he’s healthy, his PRC is negative, why cannot play?” she asked.
“I hope that he’s going to [be] the healthiest man in the world and show the world that he is, and he’s the best player in the world,” Ms Djokovic said.
Djokovic releases media statement about his COVID case
Later on Wednesday, Novak Djokovic released a statement on social media where he said he needed to correct “the continuing misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December.”
The tennis star said he attended a basketball game on December 14 in Belgrade and later learned there had been a number of positive cases at that game.
“I took a rapid antigen test on 16 December which was negative, and out of an abundance of caution, also took an official and approved PCR test on that same day,” he said.
He said on December 17 he presented awards to children at a tennis event which he attended after taking another rapid test, which came back negative.
“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event,” he wrote.
On December 18 he attended an interview and photoshoot with French sports newspaper L’Equipe, while cancelling all other events.
“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment,” he wrote.
The Serbian player also confirmed that his travel declaration when he arrived in Australia had been incorrect.
“My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel,” he said.
The main draw of the Australian Open starts on Monday.