By Jagriti Choudhry
Tennis ace Novak Djokovic’s deportation from Australia has been supported by Sheffield tennis players who believes no one should be above the law.
Djokovic has arrived back home in Serbia to a hero’s welcome from fans after being expelled by the Australian government because he hasn’t been vaccinated against Covid.
Charlotte Cremers, who is a tennis fan and plays for the Hallamshire ladies in Sheffield, said: “I believe Djokovic’s deportation to be the correct decision by Australia’s federal laws.
“No exceptions for anyone. In the end a tennis tournament is just that. It’s not worth risking other people’s lives for.”
Ryan Bagshaw, a level 3 coach at Hallamshire Tennis Club, said it wouldn’t have sat well with the Australian public if Djokovic had remained.
He said: “You can’t have exceptions no matter who you are. This could also jeopardise his chances of playing the French Open as well.”
It wasn’t a simple decision however but involved a series of events that led to Djokovic’s visa being revoked twice. The second decision by a federal court judge on Sunday January 16 meant Djokovic had to fly home, unable to defend his title.
The 20-time grand slam champion arrived in Melbourne amidst backlash from many fans and fellow players for being un-vaccinated and yet being allowed by Tennis Australia to compete in the Australian Open 2022.
He took to his official Instagram account to share the news he would be heading Down Under for the first slam of the year.
However, upon his arrival on January 5 his visa was revoked. The Australian Border Force stated that the visa provide by the Serb did not allow a “medical exemption”. Following this he was held with asylum seekers in a detention centre hotel.
On January 10, Djokovic won his appeal that allowed him to be released. Moreover, the Judge residing ordered the Australian Government to pay the legal costs .
Djokovic was seen practising ahead of the tournament due to begin in a week. He took to social media to confirm that he was now in Melbourne and practising with his team.
On January 14, immigration minister Alex Hawke cancelled Djokovic’s visa, using his ministerial powers. Djokovic’s appeal was heard in the Federal court which upheld the decision made by the immigration minister. Hawke stated that his decision was in “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.
On January 16, the eve of Djokovic’s first round match at AO 2022, the Federal court judge decided to dismiss his appeal. This meant Djokovic would be deported from Australia and not be competing in the Australian Open.
However, a further implication of this judgement bans Djokovic from entering Australia for three years unless in compelling circumstances.
After the ruling, Djokovic gave a statement and said that he was disappointed. “I respect the court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he added.
Djokovic flew to Dubai from Melbourne after the visa cancellation and deportation, and then on to Serbia. The world number 1 was the first seed at the Australian Open. His place in the Australian Open 2022 draw has now been given to a lucky loser ( a player who lost the qualifying round to the Australian Open main draw). The grand slam has now commenced.