Australia deports Novak Djokovic

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Jennifer Kwon, Copy Editor

The first month of 2022 has not been great for the tennis community. 

Novak Djokovic’s visa was revoked upon arrival to Melbourne on Jan. 17. 

Though the 34-year-old Serbian athlete was later reinstated, his last-ditch bid to stay in the country failed after losing two additional appeals. 

In court, the judges rejected the unvaccinated tennis star’s challenge by upholding “health and good order” grounds. Consequently, he was deported to Dubai 10 days later. 

This decision is met with mixed reactions from around the world.

The Serbian President claimed that it was “torturous for Australia to mistreat a respected figure for days on end just to deport him” while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison asserted that because “Australians have made many sacrifices during the pandemic, the government should protect its citizens at all costs.”  

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) also expressed their grief by tweeting, “He is a champion and his absence is a huge loss for the game.” 

Although Djokovic respects the court’s rulings, he conveyed disappointment in being unable to attend. He wished the attention was redirected to the game—not his vaccine status. 

Some even mention how this is a bigger issue than sports. 

“It is a political standout between two countries with different values on immigration policies,” Nathan Ko (11), high school student, said. “This event is controversial since it touches on the sensitive topic of human rights. The majority of Serbians view the Australian government’s mandate of double vaccination as an abuse of power. However, others think abiding by the rules is the best way to maintain herd immunity and peace.” 

Due to COVID-19, it is harder for unvaccinated athletes like Djokovic to play abroad. Because many countries only accept vaccinated foreigners, his opposition to this regulation is preventing him from competing.

“Even though I did get my Pfizer shot twice, the pandemic has limited my opportunity to play outside of Korea.” Amber Cheun (11), tennis athlete, said. “There were so many times when I flew out to America just for my matches to be canceled. Anyone pursuing a career in tennis knows how important every tournament is, and I feel terrible for Djokovic who spent countless hours training for the Australian Open.” 

Djokovic was there to clinch his 21st Grand Slam title, which would have made him the first player to surpass Federer and Nadal’s all-time record of 20 wins. But, his loss at court has him sent back home.

 “It’s very unfortunate that the energy which should be poured into playing tennis is diverted to the pandemic,” William Kim (11), avid supporter, said. “The fact that he is facing the dilemma of either focusing on his career or vaccine status makes me feel bad for him.”

 Fans hope to see Djokovic in the next Grand Slam event, which will take place in France during May.