Novak Djokovic: The tennis star’s career is at a crossroads

Australian Open
Novak Djokovic has lost his credibility. Now he is toying with his career

Ene mene muh and out you are: Novak Djokovic is not allowed to stay in Australia after all

© Darrian Traynor / Getty Images

Novak Djokovic doesn’t get a visa for Australia – for the time being. The theater about the world star has a new sad chapter. Djokovic is now at a crossroads in his career.

He is not allowed to enter, he is allowed to stay, now he has to leave Australia: the tragedy about tennis star Novak Djokovic and participation in the Australian Open has a new chapter – it will probably not be the last. After Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his personal right on Friday morning German time to revoke Djokovic’s visa, which he had only legally received back, the world number one will probably have to bury his dream of the tenth title at the first Grand Slam tournament of the year – and maybe forever .

Hawke based his decision on the country’s Migration Act, which includes an annulment power if an individual poses a risk – such as a health risk – to the Australian population. Whether the unvaccinated Djokovic must now be presented as a health security risk for Australia can undoubtedly be argued about. But the fact is that Australia wants to avoid setting a precedent with the decision: how do you want to prevent other citizens and travelers from entering the country unvaccinated if a tennis player receives an exemption? That’s hard to sell to many people in Australia, who have sometimes had to go two years without close family members. A decision against a visa for Djokovic is therefore only understandable.

Australia wants to avoid another court debacle

A decision in favor of Djokovic would make all entry requirements ad absurdum and there would also be accusations of a celebrity bonus. A decision against entry, on the other hand, corresponds to the usual tough entry rules Down Under. But Alex Hawke also has to be accused of taking a lot of time with his decision. It was only on Friday evening Australian time that the decision against Djokovic was made, whose lawyers have very little time to appeal – the Australian Open starts on Monday. After the court debacle at the beginning of the week, the immigration minister wants to leave as little leeway as possible for Djokovic’s lawyers this time – fair play certainly looks different.

On the other side is a world star of the sport who has completely lost his credibility in the past week and a half. A corona infection in mid-December in order to attend public appointments immediately afterwards? That alone is questionable, but maybe Djokovic didn’t know anything about the infection at the time of the appointments. In retrospect, at least that’s how it looks in the saga about the infection, it turns out that Djokovic was only supposed to have tested positive on December 26 (read how a German IT collective found out here). If this is the case, the assumption is that the test result and the date were manipulated, Djokovic and his team would then be scammers. In addition, the 34-year-old also made false statements about travel before his trip to Australia, so that the Serbs are now also being investigated in Spain.

Novak Djokovic is threatened with extinction in Australia – forever

Should the decision endure, Djokovic could face even more trouble. Because according to the law, the tennis star could face a three-year entry ban, which would actually mean the end of Djokovic’s success story at the Australian Open. At the age of 37, the Serb is in the late autumn of his career in 2025 and it is doubtful whether he can then build on past brilliant performances in the densely packed top tennis field. Djokovic announced on Friday afternoon that he wanted to take legal action against the cancellation. However, Djokovic would not be advised: popularity in Australia is already at its lowest point, even TV presenters called the tennis player very rude. The credibility is gone anyway – participation would be a gauntlet run. The own rules, according to which Djokovic likes to play like on the controversial Adria tour he organized in the first Corona summer of 2020, rightly do not apply in Australia. Wanting to enter a country that has clearly formulated its entry rules without being vaccinated and without an exact disease status can hardly be surpassed in terms of audacity. One should therefore have little sympathy for the Serbs.

A question will arise for Djokovic in the next few weeks: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? With a vaccination, Djokovic will also be open to future tournaments worldwide. Without vaccination, the 34-year-old faces a premature end to his career, because other countries have tightened their entry regulations. Hardly any other country will issue an exemption after the decision in Australia for someone who has already entered Australia with so much ambiguity and left again without any credibility. It would be the sad and undignified final chapter in the saga of a global star who has finally fallen.

annotation: In a previous version it was still unclear whether Djokovic would appeal against the cancellation of the visa. However, his lawyers have since announced an appeal.

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