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Novak Djokovic: Final before the start

Why all the fuss about Novak Djokovic and his vaccination status? And who would be happy to be expelled from Australia? Questions and answers on the case of the tennis professional.

The Novak Djokovic case polarized. The Australian government considers it justified that the Serbian tennis star was refused entry due to a lack of corona evidence before the Australian Open. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, on the other hand, speaks of "harassment". Meanwhile, Djokovic's fans and tournament director Craig Tiley hope that the world number one can play in Melbourne. 

On Monday - a week before the start of the Australian Open - a court in Melbourne should decide whether the 34-year-old can stay in Australia. We clarify the most important questions and answers about the case.

What is it actually about?

Djokovic is not only the defending champion, but also the record winner at the Australian Open. He really wants to play in the tournament this year too, after all, he could secure his 21st victory in a Grand Slam tournament and thus a new record - that would give his career another boost.

Novak Djokovic Possible Deportation

But after landing in Melbourne on Wednesday evening there were problems, Djokovic was interrogated by officials for several hours at the airport. He was ultimately refused entry. The reason given is that he was unable to submit the necessary documents for a controversial medical exemption.

In Australia, there are strict entry regulations due to the corona pandemic - apart from a few exceptions, only vaccinated travelers are allowed into the country. Đoković has been keeping a secret of his vaccination status for months, but he has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the vaccination and the quarrels about his entry would not exist if he had been vaccinated. 

Contracted Covid-19 In December

Hoping that the court will declare the border protection authority's decision to be unlawful, Djokovic has been in quarantine in a Melbourne hotel since Thursday, which also accommodates rejected asylum seekers. If the court rejects the complaint against the refused entry, the time for participation in the tournament will be short even with a possible appeal.

How do Djokovic's lawyers argue in the dispute over immigration?

In a letter to the court, the lawyers state that Đoković was granted a visa to enter and stay in Australia on November 18, 2021, regardless of his vaccination status. In addition, on December 30th, he received a confirmation from the Australian Tennis Association that he was exempt from the tournament's requirement - to be vaccinated against Corona - because he was recently infected with Corona and had recovered.

This detail came as a surprise. It was already known that Djokovic was infected with Corona in mid-2020. The fact that it should have tested positive again on December 16 is new. But even if the facts should be confirmed, it is not said that Djokovic had the right to enter the country.

What inconsistencies are there before the court decision?

After Djokovic tested positive for Corona in June 2020, the tennis professional made the result public himself. Why didn't he do it in December? With a view to the date of the alleged positive test result, photos that were taken on December 16 also cause a stir. Then Djokovic appeared at an event of the Serbian Post, which printed him playing tennis on two stamps. Neither Djokovic nor the other person who can be seen in photos with him are wearing a mask.

A Big Point

In addition, photos are circulating on social media that apparently show Djokovic with teenagers and children the day after the event - he was also not wearing a mouth and nose cover. Did Djokovic not know about his positive corona test at this point in time?

It could also be questioned what justified the exemption from the vaccination requirement at the tournament.

Because according to the regulations, the applications had to be submitted by December 10th. Even if Djokovic tested positive for Corona six days later, this could actually no longer have any influence on the decision.

How is the tennis world dealing with the corona vaccination?

Tennis professionals do not generally have to be vaccinated against Corona. In the case of tournaments, the decision rests with the competent authorities. 

Ballon d'Or 2022

The Australian Open is the first top event where vaccination is compulsory. At the previous Grand Slam tournament, the US Open in New York, the players did not have to prove a vaccination. According to the women's tour WTA and the men's tour ATP, the majority of the professionals are vaccinated.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley hopes Djokovic can play at the tournament. He would "like to see him play at the Australian Open," he told Australian television network Nine Network. When asked about exemptions from the compulsory vaccination, Tiley referred to different information from the authorities.

"There was a lot of contradicting information, a lot of contradicting information and we have been looking for clarity from day one to make sure we can do the right thing first and get the players into the country second."

What role does the Djokovic case play in Australia - and what is the corona situation there?

The dispute over Djokovic is also one of the determining topics in the Australian media - this is probably not only due to his popularity, but also because the way the pandemic is dealt with there is already emotionally charged. 

Dakar explosion

Since the beginning, Australia had largely isolated itself from the rest of the world in order to get the spread of the virus under control. For a long time, even numerous citizens were unable to travel to their homeland, there were hard lockdowns that lasted for months, which in Melbourne lasted 262 days.

Fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents and their families have only been allowed to re-enter without quarantine since the beginning of November. Since December 1st, fully vaccinated visa holders have also been allowed to enter the country without special permits.

The new Corona variant Omikron is currently driving the number of new infections up steeply. In the state of New South Wales, where the authorities reported a peak in corona deaths this Sunday, many workers were absent due to the contact restrictions and quarantine regulations, and the shelves in supermarkets emptied.

Who would be happy to have Djokovic expelled?

If Djokovic cannot compete at the Australian Open, there would be new favorites: the German Olympic champion Alexander Zverev and the Russian Daniil Medvedev. Medvedev said, referring to Djokovic: "If he had a fair exception to the rule, he should be here. If he doesn't, then not."

Ukraine Conflict: Helpless Between The Powers

The end of Djokovic would also be important for tennis legends Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer: They would continue to share the record of 20 Grand Slam titles with their long-term rivals.

Should Djokovic stay in Australia and compete in the end, the quarantine of several days could be his undoing. After all, the tennis professional in isolation cannot prepare for the tournament as planned - his competitors could also benefit from this.

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