Novak Djokovic has said goodbye to Australia after the country’s immigration minister canceled his visa. The pro tennis player was due to compete in next week’s Australian Open. The Australian government rejected his visa because he had refused to be vaccinated, posing a danger to the public.
“I’m disappointed,” Djokovic said, adding that he would comply with the decision. He did not indicate when he would depart from the country.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Djokovic’s stance might contribute to anti-vaccine attitudes and persuade some people not to get vaccinated during the pandemic, prompting groups opposed to vaccines to organize protests.
In a statement to the court, Djokovic’s legal team branded Australia’s effort to send him back as “irrational” and “unreasonable.”
Even though the Serbian player was unvaccinated, his attorney Nick Wood stressed that he had not courted anti-vaxxer support and was not a part of the movement. Wood said the government “Doesn’t know what Mr. Djokovic’s current views are.”
Stephen Lloyd, a government lawyer, said that Djokovic wasn’t vaccinated two years into the pandemic and had repeatedly broken safety standards, including by failing to quarantine while Covid-19 positive, was sufficient proof of his anti-vaccine stance.
The verdict concludes a 10-day drama that began when the world’s top tennis player was imprisoned by immigration officials, released, and then detained again ahead of a major event starting on Monday.
Kristina Keneally, an Australian opposition politician, blasted the government for a “litany of errors” in dealing with Djokovic’s visa application, asking why he was given a visa, to begin with.
She said the government “botched” Djokovic’s situation, “undermined Australian border security settings,” and became a lightning rod for the anti-vaccination movement.
Tennis Stars React
Kyrgios posted an emoji with its head on its hands-on Twitter, expressing his disappointment with the decision.
Andy Murray called the situation “not good” for anybody.”It appears that things happened rather last-minute here, and that’s why it got so chaotic. “It’s not ideal for the tournament since it’s more interesting when all of the top players are there.”
On Saturday, Nadal took a jab at his opponent as players complained that the scandal overshadowed the start of the year’s Grand Slam. “The Australian Open is much more important than any player,” Nadal told reporters at Melbourne Park. “The Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him.”
Garbine Muguruza said, “I think we all want to move on, whatever it is, move on and focus on the cool aspect of starting a slam.”I think all this could have been avoided, like we’ve all done, by getting vaccinated, doing all the things we had to do to come here to Australia.
Daniil Medvedev told reporters, “We’re in Australia; it’s their rules.”
In an interview on Sunday, Djokovic stated that he was “uncomfortable” with the focus placed on him owing to his visa difficulties. “I’m hoping that we can all now concentrate on the sport I love,” he added.