The Controversy: Serbian tennis player and current world #1, Novak Djokovic has forced all eyes on Australia as his Covid vaccination status and visa cancellation is jeopardizing his chances at a record 21st grand slam at the Australian Open. Let’s take a look at the parties involved and why they all stand to lose in the court of public opinion.
Djokovic runs the risk of losing out on a record tying 21st Grand Slam due to disrupted preparation for the tournament and the stress brought about by the limbo of his visa status. The global tennis star also runs the risk of losing the support of fans around the world, including the Aussie fans that support him each year at his favorite tournament. He has won the Australian Open a record 9 times! His Instagram “apology” post was far from contrite as Novak pointed to misinformation in the media and mistakes made by his team. He does admit an “error of judgement” when he participated in a L;Equipe interview after a positive PCR test. These revelations dismayed the Australian public and Novak’s fans around the world who expected a real apology from the star.
The Australian Government has received negative press and social media feedback over the handling of Djokovic’s Visa situation. From Novak’s stay in a Melbourne Immigration Detention Hotel while his case was delayed to the country’s strict Covid protocols, angry responses abound. An unwanted spotlight has also been cast on Australia’s policies for asylum seekers (many have been staying at the same immigration detention facility that Novak spent 5 days in). The Aussie government is in a lose/lose situation: If they decided to send Djokovic home, the public will cry foul and say the government’s restrictions are too tough. If they let the Serb stay, they will be accused of elitism for allowing a multimillionaire tennis star to stay in the country despite not following Covid protocols.
Tennis Australia/Australian Open – Tennis Australia, the country’s governing tennis body, allowed the exemption that started the fiasco. Czech tennis star Renata Voracova was also given an exemption by Tennis Australia but decided to return home immediately upon here release from the detention hotel. The org can expect to pay both player’s legal fees. The Australian Open tennis tournament suffers as they stand to lose their fan favorite, top seed, history making, and probable winner if Novak is sent home.
Djokovic ends up being the biggest loser of the bunch as his reputation and place in history are in jeopardy as he decides to stay in Oz and fight. Novak should expect boos and the fans cheering for his opponents each time he takes the court.