courtesy @djokernole on Twitter

Novak Djokovic deported from Australia during Australian Open

The #1 men’s player in the world’s refusal to get vaccinated causes problems, says sports writer Zach Sabel.

The Australian Open is in full swing, and has provided some amazing drama both on and off the court. Perhaps the biggest story comes from a player not even in the tournament. The world-renowned player Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia following a dramatic series of events that at one point almost seemed like it would work out for the Serbian World Tennis number one.

It must be an odd sight for fans who had become accustomed to seeing Djokovic dominate the courts down under, having won the past three editions of the tournament. Djokovic’s deportation stems from his—in my opinion—thick-skulled decision to not get vaccinated and the assumption that he’s afforded special privileges because he’s a rich athlete. At a point, it did seem like he would get these special privileges, as the governing body of tennis in Australia and the State Government of Victoria declared that he was one of the few players granted a medical exemption. He was then detained on arrival by border police for not meeting the Australian standards for unvaccinated travelers.
The #1 men’s player in the world’s refusal to get vaccinated causes problems, says sports writer Zach Sabel.

As it turns out, Djokovic had been attending events in Serbia, unmasked and crowded around by people. He eventually tested positive for COVID-19, but later tested negative before receiving his exemption from Tennis Australia. Prior to arrival in Australia, Djokovic had traveled to Spain, then ticked “no” on his travel documents stating he had not traveled anywhere in the past 14 days. When he arrived in Australia, he was promptly arrested and taken to a temporary detention facility at a hotel. A judge would later order his release only for the Chief of Immigration in Australia, Alex Hawke, to revoke his visa and have him deported.

This whole saga is a sad sight for any tennis fan, especially when one considers Djokovic has helped lesser-known pros earn more money by helping found a players’ union of sorts. What saddens me even more is the number of supporters he had in Australia and abroad clamoring for his release. This ordeal speaks to larger issues of upper-class people thinking “Rules for thee not for me,” and the widespread misinformation campaign by often right-wing organizations and individuals.

No one is arguing that a person’s free will and rights should be trampled on, but people like Djokovic’s unwillingness to mask up to follow the rules puts the freedoms of those who follow safety precautions, particularly those who are immunocompromised, at risk. For now, his little incident doesn’t just ban him from Australia for three years, this jeopardizes his legacy in the eyes of many fans across the world.

People like Djokovic with such a massive platform need to realize the power they have, and that they genuinely influence large swathes of children and adults in the decisions they will go on to make in an effort to emulate their heroes. Luckily for us, there are many tennis stars with common sense continuing to put on a spectacular show for us down under, with Australian Ashleigh Barty set to take on American Danielle Collins in the women’s singles final, and the legendary Rafael Nadal set to take on Daniil Medvedev on Jan. 30th. Hopefully, Djokovic can have some lightbulb moment that will allow him to be the mentor that he has the power to be.

Post Author: Zach Sabel