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'Toxic shame on everyone involved': World reacts as Djokovic faces Australian exile again

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10th January, 2022
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News that Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has re-cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa has once again made headlines around the world.

Despite polls indicating a vast majority of Australians support the decision to send the world number one packing, it is proving far more controversial in the wider world, and on social media.

Controversial fellow tennis player Tennys Sandgren, who won’t be at the Australian Open after refusing to be vaccinated or apply for a medical exemption, has once again come out in support of Djokovic, describing the government’s treatment of the champion as ‘a humiliation ritual’.

Also in Djokovic’s court is Ukrainian tennis player Illya Marchenko, who lost in the first round of qualifying for the grand slam.

While former player Janko Tipsarevic also blasted the handling of the situation.

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Not all of his fellow players have come out in support of the world number one, however. Long-time rival and friend Andy Murray described the situation as ‘unfortunate’ following his semi-final win at the Sydney Tennis Classic, while former women’s top seed Justin Henin has urged Djokovic to retreat.

“I think it’s the best thing he doesn’t play at the moment,” Henin said.

“When something is so complicated, I don’t say that Djokovic doesn’t have to fight, because he thought it was the right thing to do, but I think now it’s been proved that so many Australian people don’t want him to play.

“So maybe it’s better for everyone, for tennis, for the tournament, and maybe for him, that he doesn’t play the tournament.”

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Stefanos Tsitsipas has also taken a thinly-veiled swipe at Djokovic in an interview with World Is One News India, saying his vaccination stance ‘makes the majority look like they’re fools’.

Respected tennis coach Darren Cahill has also lamented the deportation, saying neither Djokovic nor the government have come out looking good.

Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker also weighed in against Djokovic, telling the BBC his one-time charge ‘has to make some changes’

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“My opinion would be: Novak, try to realise that it will be easier for you if you are vaccinated. Whether he will do that, I don’t know,” Becker said.

“It was to be expected that the Australian government would not take the ignominy of losing the case regarding the immigration proceedings against Novak Djokovic lying down and would strike back with a more forceful return.

“Any government is stronger than a single individual. That applies to all people and to Novak Djokovic too.

“He has to pay the bill all by himself. I hope the international media here will take a close look at who is responsible for all the mistakes.”

Politicians have also added their weight to the saga, with United Australia Party head Craig Kelly, as expected, siding with Djokovic.

“I stand with everyone who has been the victim of mandates, medical segregation & discrimination,” Kelly posted to Twitter.

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While Greens senator Nick McKim didn’t come out in support of Djokovic, he did slam the visa cancellation as ‘capricious, arbitrary and politically motivated’.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was also scathing of the government.

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Among journalists, the move has had the rare consequence of uniting long-time combatants NewsCorp and the ABC, with journalists Leigh Sales (ABC) and Sophie Elsworth (NewsCorp) both pondering the government’s claim that allowing Djokovic in is a public health risk.

Internationally, the news has even reached legendary actress Mia Farrow, who tweeted her condemnation for Djokovic.

Piers Morgan was even more scathing, saying the situation was an example of the rich and powerful seeking – and usually getting – preferential treatment.

Tennis journalist and long-time critic of Djokovic Ben Rothenberg summed up what most of us are thinking:

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