Sport is a symbiosis of all possible emotions, and that is both for the fans and the athletes themselves. In addition to the euphoria of victories and the deplorable feelings of disappointment from losing, the other side of the coin is human relations. Athletes support each other, cooperate, empathize, become friends. And in the meantime, get into various unpleasant situations, which are then described from all angles by the famous media.
Google searches are full of peculiar details of such news. Here we are reading a description of the famous quarrel in Rome between the Briton Andy Murray and the Argentine Juan Martin del Potro. Someone hit someone with a ball – and so it goes. And the next day is the next altercation between the Spanish Nadal and the Brazilian judge. The public wants to keep up to date with events – partly because they influence sports betting.
Is there a sport without scandalous and intriguing stories?
This time, all eyes are on the best tennis player in the world and his attitude to the coronavirus infection. Novak Djokovic faces denial of entry to Australia for several years. But first things first.
And it all began so well: the best tennis player in the world, according to the ATP rankings, Serbian star Novak Djokovic flew to Australia for the first stage of the Grand Slam tournament. Grand Slam tournaments are the most prominent annual tennis tournaments that take place in 4 locations. At this point, it seems as if even those who have not done it before are starting to bet on tennis. But this year, all the most interesting things happened before the start of the actual competition.
This story started back in autumn. It was then that the organizers of the Grand Slam specified that unvaccinated players would not be allowed to enter the tournament. The information was hotly debated in the media. Novak Djokovic has repeatedly stated that he approaches the matter of vaccination very carefully and does not want to rush this decision. The tennis star did not offer direct commentary on this topic and gave evasive answers, saying something like “we’ll see when the time comes”. At the same time, Novak’s father made loud statements that his son was being forced to get vaccinated. And that, in general, all this was rude and blatant blackmailing. The public discussed the hot topic and moved on – it would seem that everything was fine, the Serbian tennis player would be able to enter Melbourne due to the medical exemption from the vaccine. But it was not to be.
The beginning of 2022 was promising of the good news about the opening of the Grand Slam tournament, but instead, we get an actual detective novel with thriller elements.
On January 4, Novak wished his followers a Happy New Year by posting a photo against the background of an aeroplane. He spoke enthusiastically about flying to Australia, ending with “see you at the tournament”. It is unlikely that at the moment of sincere desire to congratulate everyone, the tennis star had any idea of what horror this trip would turn out for him.
Welcome to Australia
While Djokovic was flying above the clouds, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen, an absolute outrage began in Melbourne. Protests were everywhere. A public accusation of the tennis player was made by the legendary Rod Laver, who won the Grand Slam several times in the past. Rod made a dogmatical statement that there must be a good reason for a medical exemption using all his authority. And since the Serbian tennis player is in great shape, ready to play deftly bypassing competitors – it’s not about physical health. Then what is it?
Similar statements were made each minute: other famous tennis players picked up the upsurge of indignation. But the main blow was struck by the locals. The thing is, Australia had stringent rules regarding vaccination. And many citizens did not understand why they were being forced to get vaccinated, while Novak was given a medical exemption. What are these double standards?
The local elections in Australia, which were due to take place in March, have added fuel to the fire. Such a scandal and the aggression of the residents could have harmed the rating of the governors. And while Novak Djokovic was mentally preparing for the tournament on the plane, here, in Australia, an actual operation was launched against him.
The Minister of Home Affairs of Australia gave commented on the matter. Karen Andrews was sure that there could be no exceptions for anyone: be it a tennis star or an ordinary employee. The entry rules are the same for everyone, and the person’s status does not matter. If a foreign citizen cannot explain his refusal to get a vaccination for a medical reason, they cannot enter the country.
You can only imagine what kind of a “warm” welcome was waiting for Novak Djokovic upon arrival. The tennis player was quickly greeted and taken to a separate room, where he was confiscated of all the electronic devices and deprived of any communication with others. For several hours, the tennis player tried to answer one question of why he refused to get vaccinated.
When people don’t know something for sure, they begin to make up their own stories and versions of the events. The same happened there – the internet exploded with information. It was stated that the Serb tried to enter the country with such a visa type that rules out a medical exemption from the vaccine. There was also information that the medical exemption was issued incorrectly and approved by only one specialist. Novak spent at least 6 hours alone with the border services. Then the world’s best tennis player was transferred to a special quarantine hotel. If Novak had not lost the ability to make jokes by that time, he would have thought that such a solemn reception had never been organized for him anywhere else.
The end of the story
The result of the widely discussed conflict was sad but predictable – Djokovic’s visa was annulled. Australia’s Prime Minister commented on the situation on his official Twitter page: stating that the rules are the same for everyone. And since Australia has one of the lowest mortality rates from covid, the border policy is correct.
Of course, Serbia reacted immediately. But now the consequences can be even more tragic. The lawsuit was postponed twice. The result of the hearing is disappointing – the 9-time champion was deported from the country, the visa was annulled. Novak will not be able to defend his title at the tournament.
It is difficult to take someone’s side here and make any judgements. If Australia adhered to such strict rules, why did they approve Novak’s application for the tournament when they knew full well about his attitude to vaccination? There are a lot of questions.
At home, a Serbian tennis player was greeted as a hero. Downhearted Djokovic could not come out to meet the fans. Perhaps for him, the Australian Open has ended for good.