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Opinion: The Novak Djokovic story has become the focus of deep divisions in Australian society


If everything goes according to Djokovic’s plan, he will arrive in Australia on Wednesday night and be at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne’s summer sunshine by Friday at the latest, working out from the trip. fly and prepare for the Australian Open.

Instead, Djokovic spent Wednesday night at Tullamarine Airport. And he will spend at least the next four days at Melbourne’s Park Hotel, after seems to be traveling to Australia As commented by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to CNN.
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Djokovic, 34, has not made his vaccination status public and has been repeatedly privacy issues cited when asked. On Thursday, Morrison said in a press conference that Djokovic “does not have a valid medical exemption” for vaccination requirements for arrivals.
The millionaire tennis star is now a man in limbo, currently staying in a hotel used as a immigration detention center, and the word becomes magnets for protesters of all stripes – from Djokovic supporters to refugee advocates. Djokovic fans even have a wave and a “heart” sign from their hero, from behind a hotel room window.
But according to the account from some asylum seekers those who have been there, the Park Hotel is a place of small rooms with no fresh air and coronavirus outbreak location in October. That’s where some residents have wait many years to deal with their cases.
So it’s an ironic fact that the hotel’s newest guest appealed the deportation order and got his visa cancelled. be fast tracked to be heard in hours.
Djokovic moved in on Thursday and he will be there for at least four days after a hearing related to his appeal over the cancellation of his tourist visa. postponed to Monday.
However, you can feel Djokovic is polarizing, there is no scenario where he deserves this. It’s unlikely that the world No. 1 would have had a long commercial flight to Melbourne if he hadn’t been given the green light from tournament official.

But somewhere, the information pipeline involving Australian Open officials, the Victorian government and the federal government has become a broken phone game.

Prime Minister Morrison insisted the attack had stopped with authorities at the border, not tennis organizers. “Tennis Australia says he can play and that’s fine, that’s what they call it, but we make the call at the border,” he said. say on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Australian Open director Craig Tiley, along with acting state sports minister Jaala Pulford, urged the incoming Djokovic on why he was exempt. It will get them stuck a bit. They swore to him no special treatment, but did not specify.
After all, no official wants to be seen handing Djokovic a “free card out of prison.” The people of Melbourne have suffered some longest and hardest lockdowns in the world over the past 18 months as the country pursued a zero-Covid strategy. Although those restrictions have been eased – for now – and the country has officially moved to “living with the virus,” The memory of the restrictions that have seen Melbourne in particular buried for months still lingers for its inhabitants.
These Supreme Court arguments are not merely about vaccine mandates.
Roaring in the background of Djokovic’s defeat is the Australian Covid-19 mutation, with the Omicron variant poses a new threat just as countries are easing restrictions. There’s a sense of insecurity and panic that wasn’t here a year ago. Queues for PCR or rapid tests stretch across the street. Pathology labs and testing sites are shutting down because of overload. Even if it was the authorities and not Djokovic himself who were responsible for allowing him into the water, the times couldn’t have been worse.

And with state and federal elections set to take place this year, the standout Djokovic movie is an opportunity for politicians to show their tough stance on Covid-19 rule-breakers. .

Djokovic got a taste a year ago of how Australians treat tall poppies – people who hold their heads high to the rest and expect special treatment. A smaller group of tennis players and support staff arrived at the Australian Open last year and faced a two-week quarantine before they could compete.

Any minor complaint about the food not being well quarantined is many locals greeted with anger and ridicule. The players simply don’t understand, according to many Melbournians, how privileged they are to be allowed to come to this country when so many loved ones are unable to return home, or even attend funerals.
In the past 24 hours, Djokovic has not helped himself. One report from a Serbian tennis journalist said Djokovic asked to stay in the large apartment he had rented for himself and his coaches and coaches, rather than at the Park Hotel.
One imagines the refugees held with him would be thrilled to hear about that. And if there’s one thing we know about Djokovic, it’s that he’s never been particularly good at reading the room. His lawyer, Nick Wood, even try to speed up the proceedings Thursday by saying Tennis Australia “needs to know by Tuesday” whether Djokovic will play, so they can “find a replacement if necessary.
But the Australian Open is not a two-man show, where a missing tennis player is a crisis. Will have more than 100 players compete to qualify for places in next week’s main draw at Melbourne Park. Finding a warm body won’t be a problem.

In the end, Djokovic’s bossiness didn’t help. But no one – not the various levels of government, not Tennis Australia and Tiley – appeared in this pretty face. And if Djokovic’s lawyer makes a convincing case before a judge on Monday, and his client arrives in Melbourne Park to get ready to compete, the Australian fans are sure to give him a “hello”. pick” that they feel he deserves.

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