Djokovic’s return: Australian Open players are 'not so happy'
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Rafael Nadal appears to have performed a u-turn when it comes to Novak Djokovic playing at the Australian Open. The Serb has been embroiled in a row with authorities since touching down in the country but, on Monday, was given the green light to play. And Nadal seems satisfied with the verdict, even if the row is far from over.
On Monday, a federal judge claimed Djokovic should be allowed to play in the tournament despite authorities doing their best to deny him participation.
The Serb had arrived in the country last week believing he’d be able to take to the court after being given a medical exemption.
However, the world No 1 then found himself forced to quarantine – in conditions his family branded ‘inhumane’.
Last week, Nadal made it clear he felt Djokovic should have taken the coronavirus vaccine – with his rival making it clear he doesn’t want it.
“Of course what’s happening is not good for no one in my opinion,” Nadal said.
“But I can’t have a clear opinion on everything because I don’t have all the details honestly.
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“Seems some rough situation, but at the end of the day the only thing that I can say is we have been going through very challenging and a lot of families have been suffering a lot during the last two years with all the pandemic.
“I mean it’s normal that the people here in Australia get very frustrated with the case because they have been going through a lot of very hard lockdowns, and a lot of people were not able to come back home.
“From my point of view, that’s the only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who knows about medicine says, and if the people says that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine.
“I went through the COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problems to play here. That’s the only clear thing.
“The rest of the things, I don’t want to have or to give to you an opinion that I don’t have the whole information.
“The only for me clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion have been suffering enough to not follow the rules.”
However, speaking to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Nadal now appears to have performed a u-turn by saying he’s happy with the verdict.
“It seems perfect to me, totally correct,” said the Spaniard.
“Whether or not you agree with some of the things regarding Djokovic, justice has spoken and has said that he has the right to play in the Australian Open, and that’s really the fairest way.”
While Djokovic will be allowed to play for now, there could be more trouble brewing.
Immigration minister Alex Hawke has the powers to overrule the judge’s verdict and, in a statement on Monday, suggested he could do exactly that.
“It remains within immigration minister Hawke’s discretion to consider cancelling Mr Djokovic’s visa under his personal power of cancellation within the Migration Act,” it read.
“The minister is considering the matter and the process remains ongoing.”
And the federal government is now looking into whether Djokovic lied on his travel entry form.
Specifically, they’re examining whether the world No 1 was correct when saying he’d not travelled in the previous 14 days.
Regardless of the outcome, however, former New Zealand immigration minister Sir Kerry Burke called on Hawke to kick Djokovic out of the country and the competition.
“Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has the power, under Australian law, to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa,” he said.
“No amount of comment by Judge Anthony Kelly can deny the minister’s power.
“If the law requires everybody entering Australia to have two COVID-19 vaccinations, with appropriate time separation between the first and the second and, if Djokovic cannot meet this test, then his attempt to stay in Australia must fail.
“That will be minister Hawke’s call and it should be made.”
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