On the 17th of January 2022, Novak Djokovic returned to Belgrade, the capital of his home country Serbia. To put it more accurately, Novak was forced to prematurely return back home after being deported by the Australian government when failing to comply with the country’s laws against unvaccinated sportspersons playing in the Australian Open. The annually held tennis tournament is the first grand slam of the tennis season which gives the competitors a monumental opportunity to make their marks for the rest of the season. Of course, this can’t happen when you’re not in the competition anymore, let alone being 9567 miles away from it.
Djokovic was deported from the country after losing a challenge against the decision made by the Australian government to cancel his visa on the grounds of public health and order. However, it wasn’t just the fact that he wasn’t vaccinated that caused his visa to be cancelled. Federal Court Chief Justice James Allsop recently revealed why the three judges of the federal court unanimously passed the order against the Serbian-based World no. 1. Agreeing with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel the visa, Chief Justice Allsop stated that the tennis star had the platform and the influence to incite Anti-Vaccination sentiments against the youth of the country.
A document was published online after the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa to declare the reasoning behind the decision. “An iconic world tennis star may influence people of all ages, young or old, but perhaps especially the young and the impressionable, to emulate him,” the document reasons. “Even if Mr. Djokovic did not win the Australian Open, the capacity of his presence in Australia playing tennis to encourage those who would emulate or wish to be like him is a rational foundation for the view that he might foster anti-vaccination sentiment.”
People over the internet have argued that Novak Djokovic is the co-founder and major stakeholder in a Danish biotech firm, QuantBioRes, working towards Covid treatment, and should not be associated with anti-vaccination sentiments. Well, only if he practiced what he preached would it make sense.
The Madrid and French Open being held later this year, in Spain and France respectively, will also require all sportspersons to show proof of vaccination and comply with national health laws in order to compete. This puts Djokovic in a precarious position. Is this grand slap to the winner of 20 grand slam titles justified to you? Let the controversy begin.