Australian, Serbian PMs discuss Djokovic case in phone call

Melbourne, Australia, Jan 11 (EFE).- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Serbian counterpart Ana Brnabic held a “constructive” phone conversation on Tuesday about Novak Djokovic’s case as Canberra mulls whether to deport the world No. 1 tennis player despite his court victory.

A Melbourne court on Monday overturned the Australian authorities’ decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa after he arrived in the city last week with a medical exemption to defend his Australian Open title without being vaccinated, although the Australian government still has the power to deport him.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said that Morrison told Brnabic about the pandemic-induced entry restrictions to the country, which require travelers to be fully vaccinated, although it grants a series of exemptions.

In talks he described as “constructive,” Morrison assured his counterpart that these restrictions were not discriminatory and have served to protect the nation during the coronavirus pandemic, public broadcaster ABC reported.

Brnabic asked that Djokovic be treated fairly and that his rights be respected, Serbia’s public broadcaster reported.

The controversy sparked by the case has affected bilateral relations between the two countries with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accusing the Australian authorities of “harassment.”

Djokovic, 34, arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday night with a medical exemption to play at the Australian Open without being vaccinated after claiming to have recently contracted Covid-19.

However, border officials revoked his visa and sent him to an immigration detention hotel where he was held until Monday.

The tennis player’s lawyers appealed the authorities’ decision in a Melbourne court, which ruled in favor of the Serbian athlete, who is now able to prepare for the Australian Open that kicks off on Jan. 17.

Despite the court ruling, however, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke could use his personal power to revoke Djokovic’s visa and deport him from the country. EFE


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