Men’s tennis superstar and current World Number 1, Novak Djokovic could be on the verge of being deported from Australia before he gets chance to defend the Australian Open title that he won last year.
It emerged a couple of days ago that the current Champion had, controversially, been given a vaccine medical exemption, enabling him to compete in the tournament.
Djokovic’s vaccine status has not been publicly stated, although he has stated in the past that he is opposed to the vaccine.
The Serbian was one of the hot favorites to win the title with BetMGM Sportsbook having him at odds of 33/20 currently to win the title.
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Ban On Non-Vaccinated Visitors
Novak Djokovic was denied entry into Australia amid a storm of protest about a decision to grant him a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements to play in the #AusOpen https://t.co/0Q6tMuqsZl 1/3 pic.twitter.com/w63G38zboe
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 6, 2022
With Australia banning non-domestic people from entering the country without being vaccinated, unless there is a medical exemption, it seemed that Djokovic would receive the exemption due to an as yet unidentified medical issue.
What this medical issue is remains unclear, although there was speculation that he may have caught Covid-19 a short time ago and now may be waiting three months before he is eligible for a vaccine.
However, the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said that having had Covid-19 within the past six months was not one of the medical criteria to receive a medical exemption.
It therefore seems unlikely that this was the reason Djokovic stated to receive his medical exemption.
Having been granted the exemption, a move which infuriated many Australians, Djokovic was then barred from entering the country by Australian Border Force officials who stated that the superstar had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” for entry into the country.
He has since been transferred a hotel in a Melbourne suburb where he was going to wait before being deported.
However, Djokovic has launched a legal challenge against the Australian Border Force’s decision to deport him, which will be heard on Monday.
The outcome of that appeal will determine whether or not Djokovic is able to defend the title and go for a record-breaking 21st Major title win.
Deputy Prime Minister Wades Into The Argument
With many Australians angry at Djokovic being granted the exemption in the first place, the deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, has weighed in on the issue.
“If he hasn’t filled out the forms appropriately then he’s taking the sovereign capacity of another nation for a joke,” said Mr Joyce.
“100% someone’s made a mistake and if he hasn’t told the truth, then the person who’s made the mistake is Mr Djokovic.”
“You can’t just wander around the world thinking that because you’re really rich you’re really above the laws of other nations.”
Politicising The Issue
There are many people who feel Djokovic’s stance has been politicised by politicians, seeking to gain public trust ahead of elections in May amidst a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.
Increasingly uneasy about how Djokovic is being treated. Whatever your views on the man, he was approved to board that plane. And now? An 8hr interrogation, a glorified detention centre, and global ridicule. This does not feel like ‘rules are rules’. It feels like a show trial.
— Oliver Brown (@oliverbrown_tel) January 6, 2022
However, there are also those that support the tennis ace, including the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic who stated that Djokovic was a victim of ‘harassment”.
Djokovic also has sympathy within a sizeable number of the Serbian community in Melbourne and Australia, for whom he is seen as a hero.
With the tournament set to start on January 17th, Djokovic and two other players are having their medical exemptions re-assessed and they face an anxious wait to discover whether they will be able to compete in the first Grand Slam event of the year.