Tennis world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was included in the Australian Open official draw on Thursday, although uncertainty remained about whether the government will cancel the top seed’s visa for a second time.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is weighing exercising his discretionary powers to revoke Djokovic’s visa over concerns about the superstar’s medical exemption from Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Djokovic, who was out practising on Rod Laver Arena earlier on Thursday, drew unseeded fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic for his opening round match, expected to be played on Monday or Tuesday.
Organizers had delayed the official draw for more than an hour, without explanation.
Top seed and nine-time <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#AusOpen</a> champion 🇷🇸 <a href=”https://twitter.com/DjokerNole?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@DjokerNole</a> begins his title defence against Miomir Kecmanovic.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/AO2022?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#AO2022</a> <a href=”https://t.co/96MAlHNElG”>pic.twitter.com/96MAlHNElG</a>
Djokovic, a vaccine skeptic, fuelled widespread anger in Australia last week when he announced he was heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open with a medical exemption from requirements for visitors to be inoculated against COVID-19.
On his arrival, Australian Border Force officials decided his exemption was invalid and he was held alongside asylum-seekers at an immigration detention hotel for several days.
A court on Monday allowed him to stay on the grounds that officials had been “unreasonable” in the way they handled his interview in a seven-hour process in the middle of the night.
The Australian government, which has won strong support at home for its tough stance on border security before and during the pandemic, must now decide whether to let Djokovic remain and bid for a record 21st major title.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to comment on Djokovic’s visa on Thursday.
Errors on Djokovic’s end
Djokovic’s cause was not helped by a mistake in his entry declaration, where the box stating he had not travelled abroad in the two weeks prior to leaving for Australia was ticked.
In fact, he had gone to Spain from Serbia.
Djokovic, 34, attributed the error to his agent and acknowledged he also should have rescheduled an interview and photoshoot for a French newspaper on Dec. 18 while infected with COVID-19.
WATCH | Human error to blame, Djokovic says of inaccurate travel document:
Fans, including many Serbian Australians, gave him noisy support when he was detained, anti-vaxxers have hailed him as a hero and his family have portrayed him as a champion for individual rights.
But Djokovic may face hostility from the crowd if and when he walks out on court.
There is widespread anger over the saga among Australians, who have a 90 per cent vaccination rate among adults and are battling a wave of the Omicron variant after enduring some of the world’s longest lockdowns aimed at curbing the pandemic.
There may also be resentment in the dressing room, where all but three of the top 100 men are inoculated.
Tennis great Martina Navratilova told Australian television Djokovic should “suck it up” and return home.
“The bottom line is, sometimes your personal beliefs have to be trumped by what’s good for the greater good, for those around you, for your peers,” she told Seven’s Sunrise program. “You have two choices, get vaccinated or just don’t go play.”
WATCH | Djokovic allowed to stay in Australia, for now:
Chiefs’ Tyrann Mathieu suffers concussion on opening drive vs. Bills – Sportsnet.ca
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has been ruled out for the remainder of Sunday’s divisional-round game against the Buffalo Bills after suffering a concussion while trying to make a tackle on the opening drive.
The Chiefs had held the Bills to fourth-and-2 at midfield when Allen took off on a designed run. Mathieu went low trying to tackle the 240-pound quarterback and his helmet collided with the knee of teammate Jarran Reed.
Mathieu was checked briefly in the blue sideline tent before he was taken to the locker room.
Allen converted that fourth-down run, then the Bills converted again on fourth-and-goal at the Kansas City 1 to take a 7-0 lead in a rematch of last year’s AFC title game won by the Chiefs.
Beijing introduces more COVID measures as cases mount before Olympics
Beijing‘s city government on Sunday introduced new measures to contain a recent outbreak of COVID-19, as China’s capital continued to report new local cases of the virus less than two weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games.
Nine locally transmitted cases were found in Beijing on Jan. 22, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, of which six were in the city’s Fengtai district.
Fengtai will organise nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 for all of its residents on Sunday, district health authorities said.
Authorities have asked residents of “risky areas,” including a neighbourhood of Fengtai, to not leave the city, a local government spokesman said at a Sunday news conference, adding that Fengtai residents have been asked to avoid mass gatherings.
Beijing city has also asked residents to proactively conduct nucleic acid tests if they find themselves with COVID-19-like symptoms within 14 days of receiving any deliveries from overseas, local authorities said in a statement dated Saturday.
Authorities have suggested Beijing’s first case of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus could have arrived via a package from Canada.
In Fengtai, some kindergartens have told parents that children who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be able to attend, two parents told Reuters.
Reuters could not determine whether the requirement is a government regulation or the kindergartens’ own rules.
A mother surnamed Wang, whose child attends at a private kindergarten in Fengtai, said a teacher told her on Friday that unvaccinated children will not be allowed to return from Monday citing new government regulations, without providing Wang any official documents.
“This is not on a voluntary basis. This is coercion,” Wang told Reuters. She said she has filed a complaint with authorities in the hope of having the requirement removed.
Reuters could not reach local authorities for comment on a non-business day.
Mainland China reported 56 new COVID-19 cases on Jan. 22, down from 63 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.
Of the new cases, 19 were locally transmitted, versus 23 a day earlier, it said.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 34 from 43.
There were no new fatalities, leaving the death toll at 4,636.
As of Jan. 22, mainland China had confirmed 105,603 cases.
(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang, Roxanne Liu, Jing Xu and Ryan Woo in Beijing; Editing by William Mallard and Christopher Cushing)
ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen release Jacob Panetta after Jordan Subban calls out racist gesture – The Athletic
The ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen released defenseman Jacob Panetta on Sunday after South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban said he was subjected to a racist gesture during Saturday’s game. The league suspended Panetta indefinitely, pending a hearing under the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Later Sunday, Panetta released a response on Twitter, tagging Subban and captioning the video, “racism has no place in this world and no place in the game we love.” He said the gesture he made toward Subban was a “tough-guy, bodybuilder-like” one during a confrontation on the ice. He also said he’s made the same gesture to “non-racialized players a number of times” in his career.
Subban said Panetta made monkey gestures in his direction. His brother, New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, later tweeted a video of the incident, which occurred 23 seconds into overtime.
“More like (Panetta) was too much of a coward to fight me and as soon as I began to turn my back he started making monkey gestures at me so I punched him in the face multiple times and he turtled like the coward he is,” Jordan Subban tweeted after the game.
In his video, Panetta said “no racist slurs, noises, or anything of the like, were said by me during the incident.” While he said there were no racial intentions behind the gesture, Panetta apologized for the “pain and suffering and anger my actions have caused him, his family, and everyone that was hurt by this.”
“I acknowledge the impact of my gesture and will commit to better understand the impact going forward,” Panetta said. “Those who know me understand (it) was not intended to be racial, it is not who I am, it is not how I have been raised.
“But at the same time, I need to and I will learn from this. Racism and other forms of discrimination have no place in society, including hockey. I believed that before, and I still believe that now.”
Panetta’s release is “effective immediately” and the investigation is still ongoing at the league level, Jacksonville said in a statement.
South Carolina president Rob Concannon said the club is “disgusted and appalled” by Saturday’s incident.
“Our organization stands in support of our friend and teammate, Jordan, as well as the other players who continue to deal with racism and discrimination. This behavior has to stop and is unacceptable.”
The NHL also issued a statement Sunday, saying it “will continue to make its resources available to the hockey ecosystem to educate and inform, with the goal of making the game welcoming and safe for all players and fans.”
“Incidents of racism, whether they occur in hockey or anywhere else, are abhorrent,” the league said.
Later Sunday, the Devils released a statement backing the Subbans. “We stand in support of Jordan, P.K., the Subban family and anyone who has experienced discrimination within our sport,” team said. “This week’s racist acts within the hockey community are unacceptable and have no place in the game or anywhere.”
(Photo: Brett Carlsen / Getty Images)
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