Djokovic, an alibi with loopholes
This Sunday, when you have already woken up on Monday in Australia, the outcome of the soap opera will be known Djokovic, a frenzied serial that has had half the planet pending the best tennis player in the world and that has led to a diplomatic conflict that will be discussed at length in the coming weeks. The fact is that around Spanish midnight, perhaps even at dawn, there will be a verdict, a resolution to the appeal presented by the Serbian after he was deprived of entry into Australia despite having a medical exemption. Still, it doesn’t look very good for Djokovic, whose alibi has loopholes and a date dance that doesn’t particularly benefit him.
The story, in essence, is already known to the whole world, but there is some relevant novelty that serves to understand, or at least try, how it has been possible to reach this extreme.
This Saturday it was known, rather it was confirmed, that Novak Djokovic received the medical exemption to enter Australia after being infected with Covid-19 last December. The Serbian’s lawyers published it in a document presented to the judges: “The date of the first positive Covid PCR test was recorded on December 16, 2021.” Thus, on December 30, he was granted the necessary permission, from Tennis Australia, to travel to the antipodes “because he had recently recovered from Covid” and 14 days had already passed since the positive PCR test. In addition, the 20 Grand Slams champion “had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms” in the previous 72 hours. Counsel contends that the medical exemption certificate was “provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia” and that “the decision of that panel had been reviewed and endorsed by a Government Medical Exemption Review Panel of the United States Government. State of Victoria ».
The problem is in the dates. On December 14, the ATP leader attended a Euroleague basketball match between Red Star and Barcelona in a packed hall in Belgrade. He was photographed hugging several players from both teams, including some who soon after tested positive, and there he could be infected. If it is true that Djokovic contracted coronavirus on December 16, it is striking that that same day he was at an event, the presentation of a stamp with his image – one might think that the result of the PCR was communicated to him after the event-, but more especially than on the 17th he attended a ceremony in Belgrade with young players. The Belgrade Tennis Federation He announced that day on his Facebook page that “the best tennis player on the planet and holder of 20 Grand Slam titles” presented the cups and diplomas to the young winners of the Serbian capital in the 2021 season with the presence of the player. “Only the award-winning children attended the delivery of the cups at the Novak Tennis Center in Dorcol (Belgrade), due to the health measures related to the coronavirus pandemic,” read this statement. The publication contains several photos of Novak Djokovic posing with Federation officials and about twenty teenagers. None of them wear a protective mask. There was even a third public act with the presence of the Serbian champion: a talk with other relevant local sports figures such as the basketball coach Zeljko Obradovic. To all these, to request the medical exemption it was necessary to present the documentation before December 10, almost a week before Djokovic’s positive.
An unfavorable ruling today would mean his immediate departure from the country and could have very negative consequences for someone whose relationship with Melbourne was idyllic (a nine-time champion there). The Australian Border Force noted that “a person whose visa was canceled may be subject to a three-year exclusion period that prevents the granting of a new temporary visa.”