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World reacts to tennis player’s visa being cancelled again

If he succeeds the Serbian will be playing in the Australian Open first round on Monday – but pundits are split on whether he should be allowed to stay in the country long enough to hit one ball of the tournament.
Defending mens champion Serbia's Novak Djokovic practices on Margaret Court Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022.
The reaction was swift across the globe to the news tennis No.1 Novak Djokovic’s visa had been cancelled for a second time by the Australian government on Friday (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Former world No.1 Boris Becker told the BBC the decision shows “no tennis player is bigger than a tournament.

“We have to concentrate, as sportsmen or women, back on the action on the court, not what’s happening in the court of justice. It is a political game he got involved in and that’s unfortunate.”

Simon Briggs, tennis correspondent for The Telegraph UK wrote: “Novak Djokovic has no one else to blame – his selfish approach to life has caught up with him”

While The Guardian‘s headline said the tennis star had little chance of playing in the upcoming tournament.

“Novak Djokovic’s slim Australian Open hopes reliant on last-ditch appeal,” the headline read.

The BBC kept the competition out of it, with a headline that simply read: “Novak Djokovic: Australia to detain tennis star on Saturday after visa cancelled”

Former Serbian tennis players Janko Tipsarevic tweeted: “Toxic Shame on each and everyone involved in this process…”

Tennis champ Andy Murray reflected on his competitor’s plight, saying it would be good for the whole sport if the issue was resolved quickly.

“I’m not going to sit here and start kicking Novak while he’s down,” Murray said after the Sydney Tennis Classic semi-finals.

“I said it the other day, it’s not a good situation for anyone. It’s unfortunate that it’s ended up in this sort of situation, and who knows?”

The Scottish star and Wimbledon winner added that he just wanted “it obviously to get resolved”.

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic
Andy Murray expressed sympathy for his long-time rival Novak Djokovic’s plight on Friday (Getty)

“I think it would be good for everyone if that was the case,” he said.

“It just seems like it’s dragged on for quite a long time now, and yeah, not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak. Obviously a lot of people have criticised obviously the government here as well.”

Former women’s world No.1 Justine Henin said it was clear Australians didn’t want Djokovic playing and that he should go home.

Former World No. 1 Justine Henin said it was clear the Australians didn’t want Djokovic playing and that he should go home (AP)

“I think it’s the best thing he doesn’t play at the moment,” the Belgian legend said, according to Reuters.

“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.”

Former UK politician Nigel Farage was among those hitting out at the Australian government.

Not mincing his words, he called the country a “banana republic” in a tweet.

“Australia really is a banana republic. Djokovic deported on the grounds of public health, as if the unvaccinated are lepers. This is the exercise of arbitrary power overruling a court judgement. Australia has become a nasty, authoritarian state,” he wrote.

US political pundit Armstrong Williams similarly tweeted his criticism of the rule makers, saying: “The Australian government must be scrutinised and held accountable for their pathetic actions.”

But Aussie cricket great Shane Warne was having none of it – showing his support for the decision on Twitter.

“Novak is a great tennis player & one of the all time greats. No doubt. But he’s lied on entry forms, been out in public when he knew he had COVID & is now facing legal cases.

“He’s entitled to not be jabbed but Oz is entitled to throw him out! Agree?”

Scottish filmmaker Francis Maxwell’s comments went viral after he compared Djokovic’s behaviour to that of his female tennis counterparts.

“Let me say this, if Naomi Osaka, or Serena Williams acted in the way Novak Djokovic has acted in the past couple weeks- the tennis association would be sharpening their knives. They hung Osaka out to dry because she missed a couple pressers, meanwhile on Djokovic…(crickets),” he tweeted.

Returning hours later, Maxwell doubled-down on his original comments, saying: “I remember Djokovic chiming in on Osaka skipping press conferences citing ‘following the rules’.”

Former Aussie tennis player-turned-coach Darren Cahill labelled the situation “a mess” and called for more direct communications of requirements for tournaments.

“Fault lies everywhere here. It’s been a mess. Novak, TA, Vic Gov, Federal Gov. It should’ve been a hard rule entering this country considering what the folks have been thru. Get vaccinated and come play the AO, or if not maybe see you in 23′. No wiggle room.”

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