While Novak Djokovic languishes in a detention hotel awaiting the hearing of his appeal by a Victoria Court next Monday, the tennis world is polarised into two with one side using the time to defend his stand and the other, by the Australian Border Force which is questioning and rejecting his visa and ‘medical exemption’ and attempting to deport him for ‘not meeting entry requirements’.
They are trampling on Novak and thus they are trampling on Serbia and the Serbian people,. Shame on them, the entire freedom-loving world should rise together with Serbia. They crucified Jesus and now they are trying to crucify Novak the same way and force him on his knees.” Srdjan Djokovic
His former coach and now close friend, Boris Becker, has hit the nail on the head when he wrote in the Daily Mail that he is harming his reputation and the legacy he hopes to leave on his eventual retirement.
The 34-year-old has won the Australian Open on nine previous occasions and would have been the favourite going into this year’s opening grand slam in Melbourne where he has the chance to overtake Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with the trio currently tied at 20 men’s singles Grand Slam titles each.
“As his former coach I am so close to Novak Djokovic that I would almost regard him as family — but like in all families you sometimes have disagreements,” Becker wrote.
“And on this occasion, I think he is making a big mistake in not getting vaccinated. It is one that threatens what remains of his career and his chance to cement himself as the greatest player of all time.”
Becker also believes that being unvaccinated could well prove a problem in other countries he wishes to play tournaments in, though for the moment, France have said he would be welcomed despite their current growing problems with the pandemic.
Should the deportation be upheld it could also mean Djokovic being banned from Australia for three years making his return to Melbourne, where, as already mentioned, he has won the title nine times, very unlikely.
However, should the court find in his favour and allow him to stay and play the Open, the reception he will receive when he steps on court will be understandably hostile from a crowd of Victorians who have had to endure some of the toughest Covid restrictions on the planet!
Could he win it for a record tenth time? That is always a possibility but his preparations will have been badly disrupted so he wouldn’t be the ‘shoe-in’ he usually is.
Meanwhile anti-vaxxers join Djokovic fans outside his detention hotel to noisily voice their support for which he is very thankful.
“Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated,” he posted on Instagram.
But not everyone was a supporter with many reflecting the anger felt by many Australians, who have endured nearly two years of travel bans and rolling lockdowns.
“Refugees are welcome here, Djokovic is not,” chanted a group of protesters.
In Serbia his family and the country’s president have been equally vocal in their support of the country’s high profile player, completely ignoring the facts surrounding the situation and stocking up the incident into an international and diplomatic problem.
The family accuse the Aussies of keeping him a prisoner in a filthy hotel for immigrants, full of fleas whilst providing maggot ridden, horrible food while President Aleksander Vucic denounced the authorities for their ‘persecution’ of the player declaring “What is not fair-play is the political with-hunt by everybody including the Australian prime minister.”
Djokovic is not a prisoner. He is free to leave the country anytime but has decided to take on the authorities who in return, are allowing him to remain in the country but under the rules of their immigration system which are currently being enforced by their Border Force.
“Rules are Rule” Scott Morrison, the Australian PM has often stated and there is no preferential treatment for wealthy individuals “trying to run the border’!
Djokovic’s brother Djordje described the problem as “the biggest sporting and diplomatic scandal” while father Srdjan went celestial.
”They are trampling on Novak and thus they are trampling on Serbia and the Serbian people,” he exclaimed. “Shame on them, the entire freedom-loving world should rise together with Serbia. They crucified Jesus and now they are trying to crucify Novak the same way and force him on his knees.”
He also organised a rally in Belgrade to show the country’s support for his son.
Mum Dijana though complained about the standard of hygiene in the Park Hotel where he is being held, adding rather nonsensically: “This is a purely political attack on Novak so that he does not become the best of all time.”
Should that prove to be the case then he has only himself to blame. His stubbornness in not revealing his vaccination status and then arriving in Australia after posting a smug shot of himself with his baggage prior to his flight, thereby inferring he had beaten the system with his exemption, didn’t go down well with his Australian hosts and the general tennis fraternity.
In his fight for public approbation, it was a major misjudgement.