Gov’t Morrison accused of using Novak Djokovic to ‘entertain’ COVID-19 issues

“I understand that after careful consideration, steps have been taken by the Minister to cancel the visa of Mr. Djokovic held for reasons of health and good order, on the grounds that it was in the public interest to do so .

“This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for all Australians, but we have stood together and saved lives and livelihoods.”

Former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has accused the government of using Djokovic to distract from the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia.

“What a surprise! Morrison’s gov’t cancels Djokovic’s visa to win weekend media cycle – showing us how hairy he is. Why the hell did they issue the visa in the first place?” he wrote on Twitter .

“A big political distraction from empty shelves and the national shortage of boosters and [rapid antigen tests].”

Current Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the saga had been “a great embarrassment to Australia”.

“The rules are clear that you need to be vaccinated twice to enter Australia, and we still have no explanation as to why the Australian government under Scott Morrison issued the visa in the first place,” he told reporters. the Saturday.

“The right decision was to stop issuing the visa in the first place.”

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Serbian President Aleksander Vucic has again accused the government of harassing the tennis star.

“If you wanted to ban Djokovic from winning the trophy for the 10th time, why didn’t you send him back immediately, why didn’t you tell him that it was impossible to get a visa? Why are you harassing him? you ?” he said, according to local media.

The International Tennis Federation said in a statement that while respecting the government’s decision, the saga has been “disappointing for everyone involved”.

“Protocols must be clearly communicated in a timely manner and the proper process must be followed by all for it to be effective,” he said.

“And while the ITF believe full vaccination is a personal decision, we believe it is the responsible action we all need to take in order to ease restrictions and prevent such events from happening again in the future.”

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Spaniard great Rafael Nadal says “the whole situation has distracted us from the competition” but the Australian Open will be great with or without Djokovic.

“I feel like it takes away competitors who just want to start,” he said at Melbourne Park on Saturday.

“I’m just ready to put it all behind me and focus on my tennis matches… we all want to carry on with our own stuff.”

Nadal said that despite defending champion Djokovic’s dominance in Australia, no player was bigger than a Grand Slam.

“The Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he finally plays, OK. If he doesn’t play, the Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him. .”

Australian veteran Sam Stosur, playing her final Open, said she hoped the Dojokovic saga would not “tarnish” this year’s tournament.

“We want the Aussie Open to be for good things, not unfortunately what Novak’s situation has become,” she said.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Greek men’s fourth seed, openly critical of Djokovic, tried to bring attention back to the game.

“He’s been pretty much all over the media for the past few weeks. He’s gotten a lot of attention,” said Tsitsipas, who was Djokovic’s runner-up at Roland Garros last year.

“That’s why I’m here to talk about tennis… tennis hasn’t been talked about enough in the last few weeks, which is a shame.”

Three-time Grand Slam men’s champion Andy Murray said he was “unfortunate that it ended up in this kind of situation”.

“I just want it resolved. I think it would be good for everyone if that was the case. It just seems like it’s been dragging on for quite a long time now, and yeah, not great for tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak,” he said.

Former Serbian tennis player Janko Tipsarevic took to Twitter and said the whole process had been “toxic”.

“Shame on everyone involved in this process,” he wrote.

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After Djokovic’s visa was canceled for the first time, he was taken to the Park Hotel in Carlton, an immigration center where dozens of asylum seekers are housed.

Some of the men at the facility have been in the Australian immigration system for nearly a decade and have been barred from leaving detention centers during legal battles.

A fire has broken out at the facility in recent weeks and inmates have reported receiving meals containing maggots and mold to eat. It was also the site of a COVID-19 outbreak, where half the inmates and around 20 staff were infected.

Elaine Pearson, Australian director of Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter that the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa “again exposes the Kafkaesque nature of Australia’s immigration regime”.

“The minister says it’s in the ‘public interest’ when it conveniently serves a political purpose. Meanwhile, 32 refugees and asylum seekers are still being held at the Park Hotel,” she wrote.

With Reuters/AAP

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