Shock twist in Novak Djokovic case as Serbian embassy reveals tennis superstar has a diplomatic passport

  • Djokovic has a diplomatic passport that should guarantee 'adequate' treatment
  • Serbian embassy said Djokovic holds a standard passport and a diplomatic one
  • However migration expert said 34-year-old should not expect special treatment
  • Department of Foreign Affairs said diplomatic passports do not confer privileges

Novak Djokovic has a special diplomatic passport that should guarantee he is treated 'adequately' by Australian border officials, Serbian officials argue.

Serbia's Australian embassy confirmed on Friday that Djokovic holds both a standard and diplomatic passport that he received after contributing to his country's 2011 Davis Cup championship win.

The embassy claims the passport should ensure the 34-year-old receives 'adequate treatment' when crossing borders around the world. 

But a migration expert said Djokovic should not expect his diplomatic passport to confer on him any special rights when deciding whether or not to cancel his visa - a decision that is still outstanding from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.  

Novak Djokovic pictured with his wife Jelena. Serbian officials said he has a special diplomatic passport that should guarantee he is treated 'adequately' by Australian border officials

Novak Djokovic pictured with his wife Jelena. Serbian officials said he has a special diplomatic passport that should guarantee he is treated 'adequately' by Australian border officials

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also explicitly states on its website that diplomatic passport holders do not have any special rights or privileges. 

Macpherson Kelley lawyer Kian Bone said the passport only conferred diplomatic immunity on Djokovic if he was entering Australia on official state business.

'Any claim for diplomatic immunity is only extended to "diplomatic agents" and would not extend to a private citizen of Serbia,' he told The Herald Sun

The benefits for diplomatic passport holders vary from country to country, but many do not have to apply for a visa when flying abroad. 

Djokovic was granted the special passport by the Serbian government in 2011 for raising the 'popularity of Serbia in the world'.

'There is not a single country in the world which wouldn’t be honoured to have you as ambassadors,' Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said.

At a ceremony in Belgrade, Djokovic said it was a 'great honour' to receive the diplomatic passport and vowed to repay public faith in him and his teammates. 

'We are individual athletes, but wherever we go we will be recognizable, at least at airports,' he said.

'I am really not used to diplomatic speeches, so I’ll conclude with the sentence that we'll all try to justify your confidence in us.'

As of 5pm Friday, no decision has been made on Djokovic's visa - which was this week reinstated by a federal court after the star was initially detained in an immigration hotel.

Government sources have accused Djokovic's team of 'stalling' by submitting reams of extra paperwork in recent days. 

SERBIAN EMBASSY STATEMENT ON DJOKOVIC'S DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT 

In a statement, Serbian embassy first secretary Ivana Isidorovic told Daily Mail Australia: 'Novak Djoković, since he is a citizen of Serbia, has the right to consular protection like any of our citizens – at the same time, Djokovic, as our most recognizable 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.

'Although the fact is that he is the best tennis player in the world, Serbia doesn’t expect any preferential treatment of Novak Djoković, but an adequate, professional approach of foreign authorities, which we are obliged to provide to every holder of our travel document.

'On the other hand, we do not expect that, because of his status as the best, he will be subjected to a particularly harsh treatment in order to serve as an example to others, just because of his popularity.' 

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Novak Djokovic's Australian visa status lies in the hands of the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke (pictured) who is still considering trying to deport the reigning Australian Open champion

Novak Djokovic's Australian visa status lies in the hands of the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke (pictured) who is still considering trying to deport the reigning Australian Open champion

Novak Djokovic stands at a booth of the Australian Border Force at Melbourne Airport on January 5

Novak Djokovic stands at a booth of the Australian Border Force at Melbourne Airport on January 5

Despite being drawn as first seed for when the tournament begins on Monday, minister Alex Hawke could still cancel the anti-vaxxer's visa, which has already been cancelled once and then re-instated by court order on Monday. 

The Australian Open was hit by another unwanted roadblock on Thursday, when the Victorian Government brought in a 50 per cent crowd cap in light of soaring Covid cases in the state.

To keep the competition moving, and though people across the country are finding RATs very hard to come by, the Open has acquired tens of thousands of them to test players and their teams, tournament staff and even the media daily.

WHAT IS A DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT?

Diplomatic passports are usually issued by countries to government staff that work abroad.

They often confer special rights or privileges; UK diplomatic passport holders can enter China without a visa.

Prime ministers or presidents have even more powerful travel documents. Their job is usually written on the front of their passport.

Other examples include holders of the UN's 'Laissez-Passer' (let them pass) travel document.

They often get visa waivers but holders are warned to always carry their normal national passport on them when crossing borders. 

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Novak Djokovic (pictured left) and his wife Jelena. His team is preparing to appeal if the Immigration Minister decides to cancel his visa - a decision delayed several times this week

Novak Djokovic (pictured left) and his wife Jelena. His team is preparing to appeal if the Immigration Minister decides to cancel his visa - a decision delayed several times this week

Each person will have to test negatively on RATs every day of the 14-day tournament.

Though a decision on Djokovic's visa status was widely expected to be handed down on Thursday - which was what caused a delay to the Open draw - it did not happen. 

Instead, Mr Hawke is now expected to announce his decision on Friday - the last weekday before the tournament starts on Monday.

If he does decide to again cancel Djokovic's visa, his representatives have made it known that they would immediately appeal in court any attempt to deport him.

Getting an emergency court hearing late on Friday or over the weekend would be difficult, but not impossible. 

It is unlikely to be ideal preparation for the man currently ranked No.1 in the world. 

Djokovic desperately wants to play in and win the Australian Open, which would give him the most Grand Slam wins ever - 21. 

He is currently tied at the top with Rafa Nadal - who is already in Australia and set to play - and Roger Federer, who will not appear, on 20 Grand Slams each. 

In the delayed draw on Thursday afternoon, Djokovic was drawn to play against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, who is ranked world No.78.   

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