With agency report
Penultimate week, the Australian government cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa because of issues surrounding his stance against COVID vaccination. That was four days after the Serbian star had an earlier decision to cancel his visa overturned by a court on procedural grounds.
Djokovic, who was scheduled to begin his quest for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title and 21st Grand Slam crown has since been replaced by ‘lucky loser’ – Italian Salvatore Caruso in the draw hence his hope of surpassing the 20 Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal has since been dashed.
Meanwhile, Djokovic’s dilemma doesn’t seem to be over as he faces a potential three-year ban from travelling to Australia and will only be permitted to return in “compelling circumstances that affect the national interest.”
Earlier in a statement in Melbourne, Djokovic said he is extremely disappointed with the ruling to dismiss his application for judicial review of the minister’s decision to cancel his visa, which means he cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open.
“I respect the court’s ruling and I’ll cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country. I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love. I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the cancellation decision was made on health, safety and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so. “I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.”
Meanwhile, Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic said, “I talked to Novak a while ago and I encouraged him… They think that they humiliated Djokovic, but they humiliated themselves, and he can return to his country and look everyone in the eye with his head held high.”
Djokovic’s family claimed that the behaviour of the Australian government towards Novak was ‘scandalous’ and was political.
Their statement said: “This was not just about sport, and playing in the first Grand Slam of the season, which Novak has dominated for a decade, but also politics and all the interests that prevailed in this case.
Andy Murray described the scenario as ‘Such a mess’. Murray admitted that he feels sympathy towards Novak Djokovic while Rafael Nadal feels otherwise claiming that Djokovic was not bigger than Grand Slam.
Rafael Nadal says the Australian Open will be “great with or without” Novak Djokovic as the world number one’s visa drama remains unresolved.
“I think it will be good if everything clarifies soon. I respect Novak as a person, of course, and as an athlete, without a doubt. I really respect him, even if I do not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks.”
German third seed Alexander Zverev, one of the players whose chances of winning would be boosted by Djokovic’s absence, said he thought the visa row would “not be as big of a drama” if it did not involve the world number one.
“Everything else I cannot comment on because I’m not a politician. The Australian government and the Victorian government should have been clear on what is going to happen beforehand. It’s not very fair for a person to come here and not be able to play.”
Greek world number four, Stefanos Tsitsipas said Djokovic made vaccinated tennis players “look like fools”, and refused to discuss the matter again. “I’m here to talk about tennis, not Novak Djokovic. We may proceed please,” he said.
Djokovic is a record nine-time men’s champion at Melbourne Park and another victory would have been his 21st Grand Slam title. He is tied on 20 major wins with Nadal and Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who is not playing in Australia because of injury.
However, some pundits believe this could be an opportunity for Nadal to lift the Australian Open with the absence of Djokovic and Federer but can he make it happen? Only time will tell.