Rachel Fieldhouse


Fri, 14 Jan, 2022

New twist for Novak the Diplomat

New twist for Novak the Diplomat

As the ever-evolving saga surrounding Novak Djokovic’s future in Australia continues, a new detail has emerged that could allow him to stay.

The World No.1 holds a diplomatic passport from the Republic of Serbia, which his country says should ensure “adequate treatment” of the athlete.

The Serbian Embassy confirmed that Djokovic holds a diplomatic passport - which he received for being on the Davis Cup championship team in 2011 - alongside an ordinary Serbian passport.

Ivana Isidorovic, a first counsellor at the embassy, told The Herald Sun that the diplomatic passport should guarantee his “adequate treatment” while abroad, even though Immigration Minister Alex Hawke may still re-cancel his visa.

“Djokovic, as our most recognisable representative in the world, is the holder of a diplomatic passport, which should, in diplomatic theory and consular practice, guarantee him adequate treatment when crossing borders,” she said in a statement on Friday.

However, Kian Bone, a migration legal expert of Macpherson Kelley law firm, said it is expected that Djokovic will not receive any special treatment due to his passport.

“In my view, any claim for diplomatic immunity is only extended to ‘diplomatic agents’ and would not extend to a private citizen of Serbia,” Mr Bone said.

He said diplomatic passport holders were normally required to still apply for the appropriate visa to enter Australia on business - which includes playing in the Australian Open.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, “Diplomatic and Official Passports do not confer any special rights or privileges”.

“Individual countries may confer, at their own discretion, certain rights and privileges to holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports.”

Djokovic was granted a temporary activity visa subclass 408, sponsored by Tennis Australia, in order to enter the country last week.

As the competition’s start date looms, Minister Hawke is still to make a decision regarding Djokovic’s visa.

“The Minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing,” a spokesman for Mr Hawke said on Monday night, following the court’s decision to overturn Djokovic’s visa cancellation.

The uncertainty surrounding his fate comes as more of Djokovic’s rivals continue to criticise him and call for his removal from Australia.

World No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas said Djokovic had made other tennis players “look like fools” after arriving in Australia unvaccinated, accusing him of putting the competition at risk.

“For sure he has been playing by his own rules,” Tsitsipas said in an interview with Indian broadcaster WION.

“It takes a lot of daring to do and (is) putting the Grand Slam at risk… I don’t think many players would do that.”

Athletes outside of the tennis world have also weighed in, including cricketer Shane Warne.

“Novak is a great tennis player & one of the all time greats,” he wrote on Twitter. 

“No doubt. But he’s lied on his entry forms, been out in public when he knew he had covid & is now facing legal cases. He’s entitled not to be jabbed but Oz is entitled to throw him out! Agree?”

Though a decision was expected on Thursday afternoon from Minister Hawke, Djokovic’s future is expected to now be determined on Friday - three days before the Australian Open begins.

Image: Getty Images