Novak Djokovic has been expelled from Australia after an Australian federal court panel unanimously upheld the deportation order issued on him by the Australian immigration minister, Alexander Hawke, thus dashing his hopes of playing in the Australian Open that starts today.
I can understand his family and fans and his Serbian compatriots being upset. But the reaction has been way over the top, with the Serbian government also piling on.
[Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić] said he was sure Djokovic “would have been treated differently if he hadn’t come from Serbia … If he was from another country, the approach would be completely different. Of course people here are frustrated, 90% are on Novak’s side.”
The player’s father, Srđan, said the episode amounted to “an attempted assassination with 50 bullets to the chest”, while the sports minister, Vanja Udovičić, described it as “nonsense and shame, absurdity and hypocrisy”.
The Serbian tennis association said the “farce was over” and expressed its “huge disappointment”, describing the decision to deport Djokovic, who has won nine Australian Open titles, as political.
“Political pressure has led to the revocation of his visa to satisfy public interest,” it said. “It begs the question whether athletes will from now on be incarcerated like criminals and deported when it suits the political interests of powerful individuals.”
Boško Obradović, the leader of the far-right opposition party Dveri (the Doors), said Belgrade should introduce countermeasures and “chase the Australian ambassador” out of the country.
As I have said before, with wealthy pampered elites, even the slightest limits on their ability to do as they please is seen as a monstrous violation of their human rights. But to say that having his visa revoked is akin to “an attempted assassination with 50 bullets to the chest”? Please.
I know that for some people sports is like a religion but when the dust settles, what we really had was someone who did not get vaccinated and, amid some bureaucratic confusion that involved him making false statements on his visa application, ended up running afoul of another country’s visa requirements and not being allowed in. This happens to people all the time every day, without it being raised to the level of an international incident and being compared to an assassination attempt.