After nine titles in seventeen editions, it’s hard to imagine the Australian Open without Novak Djokovic. The number one tennis player in the world has never won a tournament like the Grand Slam in Melbourne. “I love you more every year,” he told the audience last year after defeating Daniil Medvedev in a one-sided final.
It takes a little miracle for Djokovic to be able to compete in this year’s championship. Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke decided on Friday to revoke his visa after a former judge correctly ruled that he had been granted medical exemption from the Australian Tennis Association. In a statement, Hook said he acted “for reasons of health and order.”
This was followed by a digital hearing a few hours later – part of the appeal, after a strange week which was the tennis player’s last chance to stay in Australia. Djokovic’s lawyers argued that the minister made an “irrational” decision, fearing what they call anti-vaccination sentiment. It is unclear how strong they are, but if the tennis player is proven wrong, he could face a three-year travel ban. As of Saturday morning Australian time, Djokovic is no longer allowed to move freely. He only gets permission to prepare his case in the law firm.
In recent days, more and more indications have emerged that the Serbs have violated corona rules. His entry forms indicate that he has not traveled within the fourteen days prior to his departure for Melbourne. But social media shows that he stood with a handball player in Belgrade at Christmas and trained a few days later on a track in Marbella, Spain.
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Djokovic explained the misinformation as a “human error” on the part of his entourage. “Certainly not on purpose.” But under Australian law, only those entering the country are liable. They must use their ‘Login ID’, ‘Password’ and PIN on the Australian Travel Acknowledgment application.
On December 18, two days after testing positive for Corona, Djokovic gave an interview to the French newspaper the team. Journalist Frank Ramilla said Wednesday that he was instructed not to ask questions about vaccinations prior to the conversation – with details now salient. An interview while injured now qualifies the tennis player as a “miscalculation”. He says he does not want to disappoint the journalist and points out that he wore a mouth mask during the conversation.
And then there was the message woman That Djokovic’s test result has been tampered with. Investigative journalists from the German weekly scanned its QR code. They found a number of irregularities. On the first examination, the test result was negative, on the second it was positive. What exactly that means leaves the weekly in the middle, but Suspicious she was.
In addition to support from Serbian circles – including from his father Srjan and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic – Djokovic received a lot of criticism. The International Tennis Writers Association (ITWA), an advocate for journalists, expressed shock at the development of events surrounding the interview with the team. “We follow the rules carefully and expect the same from players,” she said in a statement. The French newspaper journalist tested negative after the interview, but what remains is the image in which Djokovic does not care about the welfare of others. The world revolves around Nol and he spares no effort to achieve his goals. Just as he didn’t think twice about the 2020 US Open when, out of frustration at hitting a ball, he hit the referee’s servant under his face – an action that disqualified him.
Meanwhile, anger escalated in Australia – a country saddled with very strict measures on Corona – over the judge’s ruling and the revelations of Djokovic’s behavior in the weeks before his departure to Melbourne. A video has been leaked of two Australian TV presenters making fun of Djokovic. Mike Amore and Rebecca Madden were unaware that the camera was still rolling after they broke up with the scenes. Madren called Djokovic a “false accomplice” bastard. Amor expressed his expectation that the Serb would escape his “nonsense excuse”.
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But even if he gets away with it, says tennis commentator Marcela Masker, the reputational damage can still be significant. She believes the affair will go down Djokovic “well in his career,” and that hampers the 34-year-old from his freedom to play and go to his record: 21 Grand Slam titles, one more than top competitors Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. . “First place to make,” she wrote on Twitter.
According to Bart Mausen, a mental trainer and a reputation strategist for many great athletes, Djokovic should have been honest from the start, and not wait for Minister Hook’s decision. “Being honest about mistakes earns sympathy,” he says. “By leaving the country himself, he proved to be a good loser. Now his quality is crumbling.”
Mossen was surprised, among other things, by Djokovic’s father, who said Australians called his son “just like Jesus” [probeerden] anneal. Maussen: „Did that guy get one? reality check? “
head in the sand
Most other tennis players have chosen their words carefully in recent days when asked what they think of the “visa gateway”. Only Stefanos Tsitsipas showed himself against Eurosport critical. “A few people follow their own rules, which makes the rest of us look like an idiot. We knew the protocols and rules that would apply in Melbourne. It’s dangerous to break the rules like that and risk a Grand Slam.”
He kept the ATP, the interest group of male tennis players, out of the limelight. In contrast to sister organization WTA, which took a firm stand after the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, the ATP issued a multi-interpretation statement earlier this week. The federation “respects the sacrifices of Australians during the pandemic”, but was also happy that Djokovic was allowed to stay off the court and looked forward to “an exciting few weeks of tennis”.
The question is how the other major leagues will deal with players who don’t want to be vaccinated. Few tennis players have ever gotten a chance – three in the top 100, according to the ATP – but if the Djokovic story proves one thing, clarity about vaccination rules can prevent many problems.
According to France’s sports minister, Roxana Maracinino, Djokovic can “only” participate in the Roland Garros tournament in May, because although she has not been vaccinated in France she will have to deal with stricter rules from Saturday, there is no entry ban for non-vaccinators. “Protocols and the health bubble allow this,” Maracignano said on French radio.
In the US, where the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments are scheduled for March, strict rules apply to visitors. Anyone wishing to enter the country by air must be fully vaccinated, unless they are a US citizen or people who are permanent residents of the country on another basis. Exceptions are rarely made.
According to Mesker, Hawke’s decision, however restrictive, will inspire the world number one to fight even more aggressively for his 21st Grand Slam title. She said he wanted revenge, not only because he was offended, but also because he had been harassing him for years because he was less popular than his rivals Nadal and Federer. Mesker: ‘I will never forget how emotionally he reacted after losing the final to Medvedev at the US Open last year. The audience was – for the first time – on his side and it affected him deeply. “I am the happiest man on earth,” he said.