'Utter disgrace': World erupts over 'appalling' Novak Djokovic twist

·6-min read
Novak Djokovic, pictured here after winning the Australian Open in 2021.
Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the Australian Open in 2021. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic's deportation from Australia has sparked a mixed response around the world, with opinion divided about the country's treatment of the tennis star.

An "extremely disappointed" Djokovic flew out of the country on Sunday night after a court rejected his appeal against the cancellation of his visa.

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The 20-time grand slam champion was deported from Australia after an extraordinary 11-day saga amid protests from back home in Serbia that he's been treated unfairly.

The nine-time Australian Open champion was kicked out of the country after his last-minute challenge to a decision to cancel his visa failed on Sunday, a three-judge panel of the Federal Court ruling unanimously against him.

After five nights in a detention hotel in Melbourne, Djokovic wasted no time leaving and boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai that left at 10.51pm.

As the dust settled on the ugly saga on Sunday night, the world reacted with a mix of celebration and outrage.

Djokovic was the target of a lot of the anger, but the Australian government and Tennis Australia also copped it.

Tennis commentator David Law tweeted: “It could have been so simple. 1) Get vaccinated, Novak, like 97 of the other Top 100. 2) Have a rule that says you get vaccinated or you don’t play (unless your reason is so acute, and so beyond doubt that nobody sensible can dispute it).”

British journalist Dawn Neesom wrote: “So Australian Government said allowing Djokovic to play would make him an anti-vax hero. But by deporting him and potentially banning him for 3 years they’ve made him a martyr. What a mess.”

French tennis writer Carole Bouchard described Australia's treatment of Djokovic as an “utter disgrace".

“He is not a threat to Australia. He didn’t come here to excite any unvaxxed movement whatsoever. They perfectly know it," Bouchard wrote.

“Yet after a week of not being able to ensure they’d win on the basis of this exemption administrative mess, and also to avoid having to again say that yes the Australian authorities had created that process, they pick a procedure where you don’t even have to bring evidence of what you’re accusing the person of.

“He’s being deported for a sentiment he might create in others.

“The extremities they’ve gone to avoid losing face are shocking. But for a gov that has prevented its own people from returning to their country during a freaking pandemic, I guess nothing should be surprising anymore.

“Unreal twisting of the law here. Unreal treatment inflicted to their 9 time champion after all he did for the event and the city. Shameful. Dark ages all around.”

Novak Djokovic, pictured here flying out of Australia on an Emirates flight to Dubai.
Novak Djokovic flew out of Australia on an Emirates flight to Dubai. (Photo by ANDREW LEESON/AFP via Getty Images)

World divided over Novak Djokovic 'mess'

British media personality Piers Morgan tweeted: “Covid rule cheat, immigration form liar, & anti-vaxxer icon Novak Djokovic loses final appeal against deportation & will be thrown out of Australia without being able to compete in Aus Open. Good.”

Australian tennis great Rennae Stubbs described it as a "sad day for tennis", while British journalist Mike Dickson wrote: “Djokovic tried to play without compromising his vax beliefs, and without the inconvenience of having to quarantine, and he had plenty of enablers working for him. Ultimately it was beyond even him and his lawyers.”

Serbian president Aleksandar Vukic urged Djokovic to come home, while prime minister Ana Brnabic called his treatment "scandalous".

"We had hoped that justice would prevail. That 'public interest' would not serve as a pretext for a decision that was eventually made," Djokovic's family said, adding that politics had won over sport.

If he chooses to stay unvaccinated, it remains to be seen whether Djokovic will be allowed to contest the other three grand slams - Wimbledon, the French Open and the US Open.

But the main show goes on with Rafa Nadal noting: "It's very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players of the history, without a doubt - but there is no one player in history that's more important than an event."

with AAP

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