'Absolute joke': Tennis great's baffling Novak Djokovic defence

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Novak Djokovic has found a defender in John McEnroe, who praised the world No.1 despite him being deported for not being vaccinated against Covid-19. Pictures: Getty Images/ESPN
Novak Djokovic has found a defender in John McEnroe, who praised the world No.1 despite him being deported for not being vaccinated against Covid-19. Pictures: Getty Images/ESPN

US tennis legend John McEnroe has launched an extraordinary attack on the deportation of men's world No.1 Novak Djokovic over his vaccination status, labelling the move 'total BS'.

In an ESPN preview of the Australian Open on Monday morning, McEnroe was eventually cut off by his co-hosts after suggesting news coverage of the events had been made up.

'AMAZING': Massive twist for Ash Barty after Novak Djokovic deported

'UTTER DISGRACE': Uproar over 'appalling' Novak Djokovic twist

Djokovic was deported on Sunday evening after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his discretionary powers to deny the 34-year-old a visa, a decision which was backed by a last minute hearing in the Federal Court on Sunday.

The Serbian star, who is not vaccinated and shared anti-vaccination statements in the past, arrived in Australia earlier in January claiming to have a valid exemption from Covid-19 vaccinations.

It was later revealed he had contracted the virus in mid-December, but knowingly travelled for an interview and photoshoot for French outlet L'Equipe while positive, and did not inform the reporter he spoke with.

While the decision to deny Djokovic has largely been met with approval, McEnroe said it was 'gutsy' of him to show up in Melbourne knowing he was required to have both shots of the vaccine to be granted entry.

“(It’s an) absolute joke what’s gone on the last 12 days. It’s sad the way it ended. I watched it play out live,” he said.

“It’s total BS. If he decides not to have a vaccine and the Australian authorities say ‘you cannot go down there, unless you’re vaccinated, end of story, it’s black or white.

“He decides whether or not he wants to do it. He’s got very strong beliefs he’s entitled to those beliefs."

McEnroe then went on to praise Djokovic for his attempts to circumvent the border requirements, saying it demonstrated his desire to break the men's grand slam record shared by himself, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The former grand slam champion described Djokovic as being willing to do 'whatever it takes' to get the record.

“The guys won it nine times. It was gutsy (to go) in way. I’ve got to hand it to him. I’ve got seven majors, he’s got 20, the reason he’s got a lot more than me is because he’s willing to go risk that, to go down there," he said.

“You’re talking about a guy that was potentially about to break Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s record and that he was willing to go to these lengths: “I don’t want to get vaccinated but I’m going to do whatever it takes”.”

Djokovic may have played last Australian Open

Djokovic may have played his last Australian Open match after he was ejected from the country following his visa cancellation, according to the home affairs minister.

The unvaccinated world No.1 flew out of the country on Sunday night, after the Federal Court ruled against Djokovic's bid to secure a visa.

Such a cancellation means Djokovic will be banned from reapplying for another visa for three years.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Djokovic may have potentially played his last match at the Australian Open.

"It's a matter or him to consider ... but a three-year exclusion could apply," she told Sky News on Monday.

"(The exclusion) can be waived in compelling circumstances, but it's not a matter for today or tomorrow but some time in the future."

Novak Djokovic could be banned from Australia for up to three years following his deportation on Sunday, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says. Pictures: Getty Images
Novak Djokovic could be banned from Australia for up to three years following his deportation on Sunday, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says. Pictures: Getty Images

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Djokovic may be able to return to the country under the right circumstances.

Mr Morrison said the rules were clear surrounding entry to Australia, which needed to be enforced.

"The border principle is important and we were going to hold that line and it was effective," he told 2GB.

"This is someone who sought to come to Australia and not comply with entry rules. We have always been consistent and strong and very effective in maintaining the integrity of borders."

The prime minister said Djokovic did not have a valid medical exemption to enter the country for the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.

Djokovic was using a previous COVID-19 infection as a reason for a medical exemption not to be vaccinated, and while it was approved by a Victorian government and Tennis Australia panel, it was not valid in the view of the federal government.

"Djokovic was wrong, it's as simple as that," Mr Morrison said.

With AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting