Lost in the storm: Novak Djokovic sees Australian Open dreams blown away | Australian Open 2022

Novak Djokovic’s hopes of returning to the Australian Open and competing for a file twenty first grand slam title and a shot at tennis immortality crashed in astonishing style on Thursdayas he was denied entrance into Melbourne, Victoria at the airport and his visa was cancelled as a result of inadequate proof to help a medical exemption. His journey to that second reveals a lot about him.

In direction of the finish of final 12 months, as ideas shifted to the season forward, and gamers thought-about their participation at Melbourne Park, Djokovic gave an interview to Serbian publication Blic. He described questions on his vaccination standing as “inappropriate” and he bemoaned the function of the media. He was pointedly direct: “Your editors can take what I’ve simply mentioned and switch it right into a scandal,” he mentioned. “I don’t wish to be part of that storm.”

Throughout the first week of the Australian tennis summer season, the storm arrived when Djokovic introduced on social media that he had acquired an “exemption permission” to journey to Australia with out being vaccinated. Over the previous few months, the vaccination necessities for gamers wishing to compete at the Australian Open have left a profound mark on the skilled excursions. Uptake of Covid vaccines in tennis had been extraordinarily gradual, however as soon as the Victoria state authorities guidelines had been confirmed, the price of vaccination rose. It solely made the world No 1’s unresolved standing extra conspicuous.

Whereas Djokovic by no means explicitly revealed his vaccination standing, he has provided quite a few indications of his stance. Lengthy earlier than vaccines had been obtainable, he acknowledged his concern about having to be vaccinated in order to journey.


He has usually careworn the significance of embracing “pure” options; early in the pandemic he held Instagram stay conversations in which he spoke of how the energy of gratitude might “flip the most poisonous meals, or perhaps most polluted water into the most therapeutic water.” After having surgical procedure on his proper elbow in 2018, a process that has allowed him to win 9 grand slam titles since, he mentioned that he cried for 3 days. His perception in various drugs is complemented by his dedication to various historical past. He incessantly retreats to Visoko, in the hills of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the place he meets up with the businessman Semir Osmanagic – whose claims that there are historic man-made constructions with magical therapeutic powers, refuted by scientists, have turned the hills right into a profitable vacationer vacation spot. Djokovic has additionally expressed his help for the ultranationalist various historian Jovan Deretic, whose writings declare, amongst different issues, that quite a few European cultures, together with historic Greeks, Celts and Etruscans, are descended from Serbs.

Novak Djokovic should reveal why he received a vaccine exemption, says Tennis Australia boss – video
Novak Djokovic ought to reveal why he acquired a vaccine exemption, says Tennis Australia boss – video

Djokovic is unyielding in his dedication to his beliefs away from the court docket, nevertheless questionable they’re, and that single-mindedness can also be seen in his religion in the strategies which have led to his on-court success.

Since the standards for the Australian Open grew to become clear, it all the time appeared that Djokovic meant to discover a strategy to compete at the event, however solely with out compromising these beliefs.

Final 12 months, one in all the defining photos of the chaotic Australian Open was the continued presence of the event director, Craig Tiley, on tv as he managed the sudden lockdown that prevented crowds attending a lot of the occasion. After Djokovic’s announcement, Tiley returned to an analogous function yesterday as he careworn there had been no beneficial therapy for Djokovic and bolstered the energy of the medical exemption course of. The exemption purposes had been reviewed by two impartial panels of specialists, one assembled by Tennis Australia and one other by the Victorian authorities, which Tiley described as a extra rigorous course of than for normal residents.

However additional obstacles emerged on Tuesday, when Australia’s dwelling affairs minister, Karen Andrews, mentioned it was the federal authorities that might “implement our necessities at the Australian border”, no matter Tennis Australia and the Victorian authorities may need determined a few non-vaccinated participant collaborating in the event.

Djokovic is in style with a substantial group of gamers as a result of the concern he has expressed for the lower-ranked members of the ATP Tour however, as the world No 1, he’s additionally a transparent beneficiary of the privileges afforded to prime gamers. The cynicism that some have was mirrored in feedback from Jamie Murray, who prompt he doesn’t imagine he would have acquired an exemption, and Alex de Minaur who subtly described the topic as “attention-grabbing” and hoped that different candidates acquired the similar therapy. In the finish, he was sharply handled. The clear and easy resolution for the world No 1 would have been to reach in Australia vaccinated and with out concern, however the federal authorities, Victoria state and Tennis Australia additionally shoulder vital blame for his or her contributions in permitting a participant to journey for a full day earlier than rejecting him at the border.

If Djokovic’s software was tenuous sufficient to be denied on arrival, the medical exemption course of that was defended so stringently by Victoria State and Tennis Australia was a monumental blunder. As Djokovic was turned away and compelled to grapple together with his shattered dreams, one actuality was troublesome to flee. On this storm, everyone had misplaced one thing.

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