Djokovic family end press conference abruptly as deportation is still an option

Novak Djokovic delighted

Questions remain over Novak Djokovic’s hopes of playing at the Australian Open, with his family showing their sensitivity to a key question hanging over the world number one as they staged a family press conference.

At a media event staged by the Djokovic family in Belgrade, his mother Dijana described her son’s successful appeal as “the biggest win of his career – bigger than any of the grand slams he has won”.

She added: “He has done nothing wrong. He hasn’t broken any of their laws, but he was subjected to torture, to harassment.

“He fought against that system and against that government because he thought had the right to be there with the visa that he got, and he went there to win that tournament.”

Djokovic’s brother Djordje revealed that he has already returned to the tennis court for the first time since his detention as he bids to make up for lost time ahead of his prospective start next week.

“Novak is free – a few moments ago he trained on a tennis court,” Djordje said.

“He went to Australia to play tennis, to try to win another Australian Open and to win a record that he has been chasing for so many years.”

But in a sign of the unease still surrounding the situation, the Djokovic family ended the press conference when the focus turned to his reported positive test on December 16, refusing to answer questions about whether he attended public events in the days that followed.

And Djokovic’s plans could still be scuppered if Hawke exercises his right to over-rule the court’s decision.

Widely quoted in Australia, a spokesman for Hawke said: “Following today’s Federal Circuit and Family Court determination on a procedural ground, it remains within Immigration Minister Hawke’s discretion to consider cancelling Mr Djokovic’s visa under his personal power of cancellation within section 133C(3) of the Migration Act.

“The Minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing.”

It was reported Hawke may have only a four-hour window in which to consider cancellation of Djokovic’s visa, but the rule did not apply in this case because the 34-year-old had not been re-interviewed.

Governing body the ATP welcomed the court’s decision, but called for greater clarity over the rules while urging players to be vaccinated in anticipation of tighter restrictions.

A statement on Monday evening read: “The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of Covid-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place.

“Complications in recent days related to player entry into Australia have, however, highlighted the need for clearer understanding, communication and application of the rules.

“In travelling to Melbourne, it’s clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations.

“We welcome the outcome of Monday’s hearing and look forward to an exciting few weeks of tennis ahead.”

The statement continued: “More broadly, ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination for all players on the ATP Tour, which we believe is essential for our sport to navigate the pandemic.

“This is based on scientific evidence supporting the health benefits provided and to comply with global travel regulations, which we anticipate will become stricter over time.”