Sports

Reaction to visa decision ahead of Australian Open


Both disdain and support for Novak Djokovic are piling in after the world No.1 was successful in his challenge of the Australian government’s visa cancellation.

The extraordinary twist in the federal circuit court means Djokovic is now in a position to win a record-breaking 21 singles Grand Slam titles at next week’s Australian Open.

Much of the reaction from journalists and tennis players has been scathing.

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“Exhausting any and every loophole in an effort to get into a country while unvaccinated is unfathomably selfish,” wrote sports journalist Matt Walsh on Twitter.

Writer Rochelle Riley said Djokovic had “won the battle, but should lose the war”.

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“The world is at war with COVID-19,” Riley added.

“Novak Djokovic should not be allowed to put sports before safety. He needs to go home.”

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Spanish world No.3 Garbine Muguruza had weighed in prior to the decision in the federal circuit court being made.

“I am vaccinated. It’s a nonsense battle: sooner or later everyone will have to get vaccinated,” Muguruza said.

“What’s happening (with Djokovic) is a show and I don’t know if this is good for tennis.”

Nine sports commentator Peter FitzSimons wrote: “I am not, I assure you in the Djokovic fan club, and he gives me the ragings … But in wake of court quashing the federal government on withdrawing his visa, my gut instinct is the government … can’t invoke a fresh rule. The court says his paperwork was OK”.

And there are plenty backing the controversial superstar.

Most of his backing is coming from supporters where he’s located in Melbourne, as well as friends, family and the faithful at home in Serbia.

“Supporters have arrived at his location amid reports that he may be imminently re-detained,” wrote Michael Miller of The Washington Post, who published a video of Djokovic supporters protesting.

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Djokovic also has a new supporter in fierce rival Rafael Nadal, who’s had a dramatic change of opinion on the fiasco.

“Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on some things, justice has spoken and has said that he has the right to participate in the Australian Open and I think it is the fairest decision to do so, if it has been resolved that way. I wish him the best of luck,” Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

“On a personal level, I’d much rather he didn’t play!

“It’s sports, many interests move around it, on a general level, at an economic, advertising level. Everything is much better when the best can be playing.”

Nadal’s change of view follows a blunt message he delivered Djokovic last week, saying “he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago” and “there are some consequences”.

Remarkably, Djokovic’s fight to remain in Australia for the first Grand Slam of 2022 might not be over.

Commonwealth government barrister Christopher Tran told the court he had been instructed that Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews could use discretionary power to cancel Djokovic’s visa.

Judge Anthony Kelly confirmed that if Djokovic was deported in that way that he would not be allowed to return to Australia for three years.

Djokovic is equal with Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 singles Grand Slam titles and last clinched glory at Wimbledon in 2021.

Nadal is set to compete in the Australian Open and appears to be in fine touch, having taken out the Melbourne Summer Set title on Sunday.

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