Everything About the Novak Djokovic Incident Summarised & Simplified for You

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Novak Djokovic, a Serbian tennis player and nine-time Australian Open winner, has been denied entry to Australia due to his inability to meet the double-vaccinated requirement or to prove that he has a special medical condition for his visa.

Presently, he is being quarantined in a Melbourne hotel as his lawyers started an appeal seeking to overturn the federal government decision, to which the court has agreed to a hearing on Monday (10 Jan).

Readers, you must be thinking, what a novel joke this is, that a tennis star, also notoriously known for being against vaccines, is being denied entry as Australia currently struggles with the highest number of COVID-19 cases it has thus far.

Without further ado, here is a summary of how this…ludicrous series of events begun.

The Man, The Myth…The Anti-Vaxx Legend, Novak Djokovic

As the World’s Number One Player in Tennis, with 18 Grand Slam titles in total, Novak Djokovic is certainly a man of repute and skill.

Common sense, though, maybe not so much.

Unfortunately, being so heavily under the spotlight also means that his dislike for vaccinations and quarantine protocols is also fairly well-known, especially among the tennis circles.

In 2020, many tennis tournaments were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its corresponding restrictions.

In response, Djokovic spontaneously decided to host the Adria Tour in the Balkans, an event that was organised by the Novak Djokovic Foundation as a charity tour to help the coronavirus victims.

All in all, the event sounded like it came with good intentions; an attempt to urge and raise the passions for his beloved sport whilst raising money for the needy during these trying times.

However, the Tour proved to be quite the disaster when players and officials failed to comply with the COVID-19 health guidelines of social distancing and wearing masks. 

Just to really go the extra mile, the event seemed to have a party-like atmosphere even, with players hugging each other after matches, all sweaty and euphoric from their wins.

To the surprise of no one (or maybe just to Djokovic himself), COVID-19 cases broke out en-masse among the participants, of which the victims included Djokovic himself and his wife Jelena, three other players, three coaches, and a player’s pregnant wife.

Despite Djokovic’s brush with COVID-19, which he made full recovery from during his self-isolated quarantine with his family, his staunch beliefs against vaccines and that polluted water could be cleaned with positivity did not change.

Sorry mate, but I really don’t think any of those beliefs hold water.

Australia Open’s Medical Assessments

Herein lies the first question: Why did Djokovic believe that his entry to the 2022 Australia Open was secured despite his contrarian beliefs?


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For the 2022 Tournament, there were two independent medical panels which determined whether the players were fit and healthy to play in the tournament: Tennis Australia, and Victoria state.

Under medical panels’ clauses, medical exemptions are allowed for cases like an acute medical condition or having contracted COVID-19 in the past six months. This was subsequently approved by the Victorian state government.

Hence, Djokovic had applied for a medical exemption under the latter condition, no thanks to the Adria Tour debacle, and later announced on social media that he had gained a medical exemption and gained a spot in the Australian Open.

Major Roadblock for Novak Djokovic

But under Federal travelling policies which can supersede state authorisation, any person stepping foot into Australia has to prove that they are either double-vaccinated or they have a proven medical condition that stops them from doing so.

Since Djokovic could not meet either criterion, he landed at the Melbourne airport and was rejected entry. He was held at the airport for several hours before he was brought to a detention hotel, where he will be staying until the court decides whether he should be deported on Monday.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) said in a statement that “non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia,” and that Djokovic had “failed to provide appropriate evidence.”


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This sentiment was echoed by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, although he, too, is in a bit of hot waters since he had supported the Victorian state’s decision on the medical exemption, only to double back later due to public outrage.

Morrison then declared that no one was above the country’s rules, regardless of who they were.

The Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce went a step further to explain on BBC, saying he [Djokovic] shouldn’t think that he was above the law of other nations simply because he was rich, since that would be immensely disrespectful to the sovereignty of those nations.

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Conflicts of Opinion

For the Australian population that are currently facing their worst wave of COVID-19 cases where the number of infected cases have climbed up to 70,000 on Thursday (6 Jan), they were understandably displeased by Djokovic’s refusal to be vaccinated.

As it stands, more than 90% of the Australian population are double-dosed, and have been under strict COVID lockdown protocols.


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Whereas Djokovic’s tennis supporters and the Serbian community had been outraged by news, making their way towards the quarantine hotel that Djokovic was staying in to sing and dance to songs about freedom to show their solidarity for hours.

His wife, Jelena, was also present at the rally, wearing a white cap that Djokovic signed for her two years ago. In her hands was a sign that wrote “Thank You” and she fervently believes that the Australian government needs to clean up this international scandal, which has drawn the eyes of the world.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic proclaimed that Djokovic is a victim of “harassment” and that the entire country supported him. Djokovic’s father also stated that this was “blackmail.”

I apologise but… How, and in what way?

Another Spanish Tennis player by the name of Rafael Nadal had also made his piece, stating that the most apparent thing to him was that the players could play as long as they were vaccinated, and this sentiment of getting vaccinated holds strong, since he believes that the vaccines are the only way to stop the pandemic which has taken many human lives.


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Other players, whose names are unknown, have launched an appeal against Djokovic’s detention.

There are also two more players whose medical exemptions are being reviewed again.

Just to give my two cents here (which is really to say that my opinion is mostly worthless), is it really that difficult to get poked by vaccination needles twice?

It seems like an insignificant price to pay, both time and money-wise, to save all this trouble of being entangled between Australian federal and state authorities, which has now been blown up into an international affair.

But the joke about him and COVID-19 has already been made in his name, so I’ll save Djokovic from further humiliation.


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It’s not every day where you see a man go from Tennis Champion to an internet sensation meme “Novacc Djkovid”.

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Featured Image: Yuya Chiu / Shutterstock.com


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