Australian Open Tennis: Djokovic free… for now


Little did anyone know that when Novak Djokovic cheerfully announced he was on his way to Australia, we would have a week of high drama that would scoop any Oscars!

How we got here

On 4 January, Djokovic announces on Instagram that he has received a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open, having pulled out of the ATP Cup which started on 1 January.

There is outrage that he can be allowed in with his vocal views on the Covid-19 vaccination programs.

While he was in the air, the federal authorities indicated he might be turned away at the border if he was unable to supply the proper medical proof, and after reaching out to the Victoria state government (who works in conjunction to with Tennis Australia to stage the Australian Open), they declined to sponsor his visa, saying it was a matter for the federal government. 

After being detained at the airport for over eight hours, Djokovic was taken to a detention hotel, and announced he would be appealing the decision.

Later, he would reveal he tested positive for the virus for at least a second time on 16 December, but was pictured at a number of events in Serbia with no mask, and no social distancing.

The hearing

Initially being made available on Microsoft Teams (you could not make this up!), predictably the technology crashed with the demand, and the hearing started late.

At times the judge had sympathy for Djokovic, asking what more he could have done, and if you read the transcript (link in the tweet above) you see how confused Djokovic was with the whole procedure.

On a technicality, the Australian Border Force made their decision too early. Had they allowed Djokovic the time to talk to lawyers and representatives from Tennis Australia, and then made the decision, then it could have been a very different story.

Djokovic was released and has finally made it to Rod Laver Arena.

Still questions to be asked?

The focus now is on whether Immigration Minister Alex Hawes exercises his personal power to re-detain and re-cancel Djokovic’s visa, and this time he would be banned from re-applying to enter Australia for three years.

Djokovic claims he tested positive from a PCR test taken on 16 December – but was pictured at a presentation of a new stamp in his name, an award from L’Equipe and at a children’s day, with no mask wearing or social distancing for the most part.

He provides evidence of being cleared by a PCR test on 22 December but it is clear that during that time, he did not isolate.

He could find himself on sticky ground in terms of endangerment to public health and it must be remembered the exemption was to not have to quarantine, not to be able to waltz into Australia with Matilda in tow as if the world is not still gripped in a global pandemic!

Sensibly he reunited with his team instead of joining his parents and brother for a press conference, and when they were challenged about. His activities after testing positive, they shut the press conference down.

At least we now all know without exception his vaccination status – a detail he declined to give publicly.

We wait, with everyone, to see if there is another airport chapter to come.

Latest Bookmaker Prices

Despite this further decision now hanging over his head, his odds have shortened considerably, with bookmakers reacting as best as they can to the news.