It looks like it’s game, set, match to tennis’ controversial number one Novak Djokovic after a judge ruled the last-minute cancellation of his visa by the federal government was unreasonable.
Since landing in Melbourne ahead of the pending Australian Open on January 6, the 34-year-old has been detained by Border Force officials after they rejected his claims of a medical exemption for being unvaccinated.
Djokovic had applied for the exemption under the advice that, as he had allegedly contracted and recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months.
In a timeline constructed by The Sydney Morning Herald, Djokovic’s team and Tennis Australia had been in contact with both Victoria’s health authorities and the Federal Government over the requirements and approvals of being let into the country prior to Djokovic getting on the plane.
Morrison just lost his case against #Djokovic. Total incompetence! Like on everything else. If they seriously didn’t want him,why on earth did they give him a visa to fly here? This was conceived as one giant distraction strategy when out in the real world people can’t get tested
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) January 10, 2022
While many are praising the fallout as a win for “muh freedoms” the sad truth is Djokovic, who by all accounts was under the impression he had ticked all the correct boxes for the vaccine and quarantine exemptions, was a patsy for political campaigning.
The saga has highlighted how arbitrary the visa application process can be after it was revealed that two other tennis players using the same exemption as Djokovic had already successfully entered the country and begun training.
It’s also become a sore point for plenty of folks who have been barred from seeing family members for the past three years due to both interstate and international lockouts courtesy of COVID.
Unless you’re an incredibly wealthy tennis player with a known history of spreading vaccine scepticism and injuring line staff while having a tantrum, good luck hugging your mum.
But the blame does seem to land squarely at the feet of the federal government.
In a bit of a how good’s cricket moment, it feels like Djokovic was granted access to arrive until public sentiment revealed that no, actually, tennis stars aren’t what we want right now.
Next thing you know, old mate’s been bundled away into a hotel room that has been the prison to asylum seekers for the past nine years and the same department behind granting him access is crying “what are ye doin’ in mah swamp.”
While there is talk that the Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke may yet jump in and overturn this decision in an attempt to save government face, the fact remains the damage is already done.