The Australian "Not-So" Open: Novak's "No-Vax" Narrative
This week, we could have witnessed a milestone for Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, in what was meant to be his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title pursuit.
However, the world's #1 ranked men's tennis player encountered red tape upon entrance to the country, over their strict border rules. This comes in the wake of his stance opposing their national vaccine mandate.
The Deportation: Australia vs Novak
Due to Novak's recent infection with COVID-19, vaccination is widely deemed untimely. So, seeing as how he was unvaccinated, he had to count on a medical exemption to allow him into the country.
Uncompromised with his stance, Djokovic continued with his flight to Melbourne in hopes that he would bypass the country's "no vaccination no entry rule". Upon landing, the high-profile saga took flight off-the-court as he became detained at Park Hotel along with other refugees.
Up in arms, the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was ready to revoke the 20-times champion's visa. After 11 days of going back and forth, a promptly organized briefing was held virtually on Sunday, Jan 16th, 2022. In this briefing, a unanimous ruling by a three-judge federal court to arbitrarily deport Djokovic was decided upon.
A Bucket Brigade Between Australian Citizens And The Federal Government
Normally you would face up to a 3-year ban, but the Australian Prime Minister has extended an invitation again for next year's tournament, only if he returns under the right circumstances. Many Australians see this more like a mere slap on the wrist than anything else.
Amidst all this, Alex Hawke viewed Djokovic as a threat to public order. He stated that the worst that could've happened for Australia is that this saga would potentially galvanize the anti-vaxxers.
Novak Bows Out With Grace Till Next Year…Hopefully
With such a competitive tie between Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic all holding 20 championship titles each, I guess we'll never know if Djokovic was going to break the tie this time around. What could have been a standing ovation after his return home from Australia became a not-so-hero's welcome upon his arrival in Belgrade.
He further explained that he was "extremely disappointed" by the decision and didn’t hesitate to cooperate with authorities in relation to his exit from the country.
"I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament that I love", said Novak.
The finals for the Australian Open take place this Sunday, January 30th at 3:30 AM EST. Rafael Nadal will take on Daniil Medvedev in pursuit for his 21st championship title. If you would like to place some bets on the match, click HERE to see which sportsbooks are available in your area!
BetMGM Sportsbook currently has Rafael Nadal as the slight underdog, sitting at +160.