Novak Djokovic’s Fight To Stay In Australia Lives Another Day

The Australian government also expressed concern that on Dec. 18, a day after Djokovic learned that he had tested positive, he hosted journalists at his tennis center in Belgrade for an interview and photo shoot, without informing them. Those revelations led to the second visa revocation on Friday.

Some skeptics wondered if Djokovic’s positive test might have been faked to help him earn the exemption. On Friday, Zoran Gojkovic, a member of Serbia’s coronavirus crisis team, said the player’s positive test result was valid. He added that Djokovic had not violated any Serbian laws, especially since the state of emergency was lifted last month.

The Novak Djokovic Standoff With Australia


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A vaccine exemption question. Novak Djokovic was refused entry to Australia over questions about a Covid vaccine exemption. After he challenged the ruling in court, a judge allowed him to enter. Authorities then revoked his visa again, and he lost his final bid to stay when a three-judge panel upheld the decision.

How it started. The standoff began when Djokovic received an exemption that would allow him to defend his Australian Open title. Upon arrival, federal officials said he did not meet the requirements for entry because he was unvaccinated, and canceled his visa.

How it ended. For more than a week, the world gawked at a conflict centered on the controversial tennis star, filled with legal minutiae and dramatic ups and downs. Ultimately, Djokovic lost to a government with powerful laws that was determined to make an example out of him.

The bigger picture. Amid a difficult time in Australia’s fight against Covid, the standoff highlighted the growing public outcry against high-profile vaccine skeptics like Djokovic when they want to play by different rules than everyone else.

What happens next. It is unclear what will happen at the next major tournaments on the men’s tour, but the standoff in Australia presages some of the headwinds Djokovic could face if he attempts to travel the world without being vaccinated for Covid-19.

Djokovic is in a distinct minority among fellow players on the ATP Tour. More than 90 percent have been vaccinated, the men’s sport’s leading organization reports, and most enjoy far greater ease of movement.

In 2022, the tour does not require vaccinated players to take more than an initial test after they arrive at a tournament, unless they develop symptoms. Unvaccinated players and team members will have to be tested regularly.

The draw for the Australian Open has already been completed, with Djokovic the top seed and scheduled to play Miomir Kekmanovic in the first round. If Djokovic is forced to withdraw after the schedule of play comes out on Sunday, he will be replaced by a so-called lucky loser — a player who lost in the qualifying rounds.

“Australian Open is much more important than any player,” Rafael Nadal, who has also won 20 Grand Slam titles, said on Saturday. “If he’s playing finally, OK. If he’s not playing, Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him.”

But Martina Navratilova, the Hall of Fame player and analyst, told the Sunrise television program in Australia that Djokovic should withdraw on his own to end the drama. “It’s just the right thing to do,” she said, “but I don’t think he will do that because he wants that 21st title.”

Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/14/sports/tennis/novak-djokovic-australia-visa-hearing.html

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