Novak Djokovic’s spell in Australia has been an eventful one, but it looked like he would get a chance to try and win his 21st career Grand Slam title when he was included in the First Round draw for the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.
That was until the Australian Government Immigration Minister Alex Hawke stepped in once again to cancel the visa of the top ranked male tennis star earlier today.
Mr Hawke stated that it was “in the public interest to do so” after he exerted special powers to reinstate the ban, following the court’s decision earlier this week to quash the original visa cancellation.
— ABC News (@ABC) January 14, 2022
Djokovic’s legal team have stated that they are going to consider the different options available to them with regards to appealing the decision with an appeal seeming very likely.
After the news this morning, Djokovic’s odds on winning the tournament have drifted slightly and he is now the joint 6/4 favorite alongside Daniil Medvedev with BetMGM Sportsbook.
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“Result Of Those Sacrifices To Be Protected”
In a media statement about Mr Hawke’s decision, the Australian PM Scott Morrison confirmed his support of Mr Hawke’s decision and making a pointed reference to how Australians have faced up to the pandemic.
“This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian,” stated Morrison, “but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods.”
“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”
“This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”
It is hard to make a convincing case for Djokovic to remain in the tournament on moral
grounds, which is why the Serbian ace is employing his legal team to try and ensure he can play.
Earlier this week, Djokovic admitted that he had attended events in Serbia on the 17th December, without a mask or any social distancing, despite knowing he had tested positive for the virus on the 16th December.
If that isn’t bad enough, on his immigration form, Djokovic declared that he had not been in another country for two weeks prior to his visit to Australia, when in fact he had been in Spain for several days.
He later put this down to a ‘human error’ by his agent.
There was also the underlying assumption, which was incorrect, that having contracted the virus on the 16th December, and made a full recovery, he would receive a medical exemption allowing him to play as he needs to wait around 90 days to get a vaccine, even if he wanted one (which he doesn’t).
That was never the case.
In the end, it looks like Mr Djokovic has made a complete misjudgement on this entire situation, making many false assumptions and perhaps assuming his status in the game, perhaps with the implicit support of Australian Open organiser Craig Tiley, would ensure that he would get to play.
However, he has underestimated the strength of public feeling against him.
Djokovic’s supporters and some political opponents of the government in Australia have said that the government is making an example of the tennis star simply for political reasons.
They claim that with elections coming up in May, and public opinion of the government very low, they are using the Djokovic situation to try and curry favor with the Australian public – A claim that the government deny.
However, the public opinion is very much against Djokovic, who already had polarized fans in Australia before any of the issues with his Visa started.
Now though, it seems there are many more against the Serbian playing, with talk of people boycotting the tournament if he is allowed to play, and others stating that they would not watch any game he participates in, even if they had bought tickets for the court.
There has also been plenty of support on social media for the Australian government’s decision.
It is believed that Djokovic has been asked to attend a meeting tomorrow morning with Australian immigration officials, but his legal team are also considering asking the courts for a fast-tracked appeal, in an effort to get the appeal heard and a decision made no later than Sunday.
Djokovic, if he plays in the tournament, is due to start his First Round game with fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday in Australia (Sunday in the U.S.).
Whether that goes ahead or not, we will find out over the weekend.
But one thing is certain, Djokovic’s standing in the game in Australia has taken a battering and there are many others who are questioning his choices and behavior.