Djokovic Returns to Australia After Deportation

Tennis star Novak Djokovic is back in Australia, nearly a year after he was detained and deported over his COVID vaccination status.

Djokovic Returns to Australia After Deportation
Image credit: James Richardson [via Tennis365]

Facts

  • Tennis star Novak Djokovic is back in Australia, nearly a year after he was detained and deported over his COVID vaccination status.
  • At the time, the Serbian had been world no. 1 and was due to defend his Australian Open crown. However, after arriving in Melbourne on Jan. 5, he was detained by the Australian Border Force and was required to stay at an immigration hotel after it was discovered he hadn't been vaccinated.
  • Djokovic had said he thought he could enter the country after two independent panels associated with Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government had granted him an exemption on the grounds he'd been infected with COVID shortly before.
  • However, following a legal fight, Djokovic was deported after former immigration minister Alex Hawke found he "posed a risk to public health and order" because, as a celebrity sportsman who had previously expressed opposition to compelled vaccination, he could be seen as an "icon" for those with similar views.
  • The deportation resulted in an automatic three-year ban on him returning — a decision that was overturned by Australian authorities last month. At the time, Djokovic said: "The Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slams. I made some of the best memories there. Of course, I want to go back there, I want to play tennis, do what I do best, hopefully have a great Australian summer."
  • The 35-year-old has won the tournament a total of nine times — the most by any player — and has won a total of 21 Grand Slams, one behind rival Rafael Nadal. Before competing in the Australian Open, set to commence on Jan. 16, Djokovic will play in the Adelaide International beginning on Sunday.

Sources: BBC News and CNN.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Tennis365. Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players of all time and has won the Australian Open a record number of times. The tournament and title would carry less weight if he's not there to compete. He should never have been treated as a pariah by the Australian government.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Atlantic. At the time, Djokovic was treated appropriately by the Australian government given the circumstances and his actions. Times are different now, but no one should feel sorry about the past.
  • Narrative C, as provided by Guardian. After a series of blunders, natural disasters and a once-in-a-century pandemic, the last three Australian Opens have been overshadowed by events off the tennis court. With Djokovic's return, hopefully this year it's the tennis that'll do the talking.