One of the biggest stars in tennis worldwide, Novak Djokovic’s bid to win a record-breaking 21 men’s Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open ended on Sunday with a court decision that went in the favor of the government who canceled Djokovic’s visa. Here are the key dates and events in Novak Djokovic’s saga:
So, it all started on 16 December 2021, When Djokovic tested positive for covid-19, as per his affidavit to the Australian federal court. His accompanying PCR result by the Institute of Public Health of Serbia shows that Djokovic was tested at 1:05 pm and the reports came at around 8:19 pm.
Key moments in Novak Djokovic’s Australian saga
17 December 2021: As per Novak Djokovic, he attended a charity event in Belgrade and his social media posts show him maskless and was giving out awards to children. He also said in his statement on 12 January 2022 that he did not get his PCR result before he attended the event. Djokovic said a rapid antigen test which he took before attending the event was negative.
18 December 2021: Novak Djokovic broke the isolation rules for a photo shoot and an interview with L’Equipe newspaper. As per his statement on 12 January 2022 that he “felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down”.
22 December 2021: Novak Djokovic received a negative PCR result from the Institute of Public Health of Serbia, as per the court documents.
24-25 December 2021: Novak Djokovic was seen in Belgrade, according to two witnesses to Reuters. A video posted on a social media handle on Christmas Day showed him playing street tennis in Belgrade.
30 December 2021: Tennis Australia informed Novak Djokovic that they granted him a temporary medical exemption from the country’s vaccine requirements on the grounds of the previous infection. In a letter dated 30 December 2021, as per the Australian Open organizers, this was granted by a panel of medical experts and reviewed by the state government of Victoria, where the tournament was held.
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1 January 2022: Novak Djokovic told his agent to fill out his travel declaration to enter Australia. The declaration stated that he had not traveled in the last 14 days as per the isolation rules prior to his expected departure from Spain on 4 January. The Department of Home Affairs advised the agent that Djokovic fulfilled the requirements for quarantine-free arrival in Australia. Djokovic later admitted the immigration form had a small mistake in not saying that he had traveled between Serbia and Spain in the 14 days before he departed.
2 January 2022: Novak Djokovic was issued a border travel permit by the Victorian government. He was also seen greeting a fan in a video in Marbella, Spain.
4 January 2022: “I’m heading Down Under with an exemption,” Novak Djokovic said in an Instagram post shortly before flying from Spain via Dubai to Melbourne. The impending arrival of the vaccine skeptic received a huge amount of backlash in Australia, which was due to the world’s toughest Covid-19 lockdowns and where hospitalization rates have hit a record high.
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5 January 2022: Novak Djokovic landed at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport at 11:30 pm.2
6 January 2022: Australia’s Border Force detained Novak Djokovic in a room at the airport overnight, denying him permission to enter the country and notifying him of their intention to remove him. The Serbian president objected to Canberra.
7 January 2022: Novak Djokovic faced 3 days over the Orthodox Christmas holed up in a hotel for asylum seekers after a court agreed to hear his appeal against his canceled visa.
10 January 2022: In a virtual court hearing, Djokovic was freed from detention. A judge quashed the government’s decision to cancel his visa on the grounds it was unreasonable. The Australian immigration minister, Alexander Hawke, said he would weigh the use of personal powers to deport him anyway.
11 January 2022: The Social media posts and witness accounts to Reuters contradicted Novak Djokovic’s immigration form declaration that he did not travel for 14 days before entering the country.
12 January 2022: Later than the next day, Novak Djokovic posted a statement on his official Instagram handle apologizing for the mistake on the form and for leaving quarantine to do a photoshoot with L’Equipe.
13 January 2022: Novak Djokovic was included in the Australian Open draw as the top seed.
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14 January 2022: Hawke used discretionary powers to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time, saying Djokovic may pose a risk to the country.
15 January 2022: Novak Djokovic returned to the immigration detention hotel where he stayed previously.
16 January 2022: A federal court three-judge panel dismissed an appeal by Novak Djokovic seeking to overturn the visa cancellation in a unanimous, final ruling. Djokovic was not able to appeal against the decision and was set to be deported. The Serbian tennis player was seen boarding an Emirates flight from Melbourne to Dubai. The flight left shortly after 10:30 pm local time.