Australia’s home affairs minister has dismissed claims that Novak Djokovic is being held “captive” in Melbourne, declaring that world No 1 is free to leave the country whenever he chooses.
This is coming after Novak Djokovic’s father alleged that his son is being held captive and also suggestive that his fans take to the street to protest.
Djokovic is being held in an immigration hotel until Monday when he will challenge in court the federal government’s Thursday decision to cancel his visa.
The home affairs minister, Karen Andrews, said on Friday that other international players and officials who had already been allowed into the country on a similar vaccine exemption to Djokovic were being investigated by border force officials.
She rejected accusations from the Serb star’s family that the Australian government was “keeping him in captivity”.
“Djokovic is not being held captive in Australia,” Andrews told the national broadcaster ABC. “He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so and border force will actually facilitate that.”
The Victorian state government on Friday said it had not seen correspondence between the federal government and Tennis Australia that stipulated unvaccinated players could not enter the country on the basis they had previously been infected with Covid.
“I can confirm people who contracted Covid-19 within the past six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a TGA-approved vaccine or TGA-recognised vaccine, are not considered fully vaccinated,” the federal health minister wrote to the Tennis Australia boss, Craig Tiley.
The Victorian government sought to distance itself from the debacle by claiming visa approval was the commonwealth’s responsibility and it hadn’t been told about the letters to Tennis Australian from the federal health minister and his department.
“I’m advised that members of the Victorian government hadn’t seen that correspondence,” the state’s acting premier, Jacinta Allan, said.
“We wouldn’t necessarily see it … but it reinforces that point that it is the commonwealth government … that’s responsible for issuing visas and how they engage in that dialogue with Tennis Australia is a matter for them.”
The world No 1 faces another three days in the Park hotel alongside refugees and asylum seekers. He’s waiting for a hearing in the federal circuit court which will determine whether he can defend the Australian crown he’s won nine times