With the new year upon us, January gives us its largest sporting event as the world of tennis prepares for the Australian Open.
Yet, controversy has already swept the sport even before the first serve, with the start scheduled on the 17th of January.
This refers to the Serbian’s stance against having the Covid-19 vaccine. Djokovic’s viewpoint is perhaps atypical, with many athletes keen to be vaccinated, due to the threat of covid canceling sporting events, most notably seen recently in the Premier League.
Some, including the Serbian government, have praised Djokovic for expressing his own freedoms and stubbornness when making his decision.
This made things slightly awkward when Australia, a country which demands proof of vaccination from its visitors, was set to make an exception for the Serbinator, Djokovic.
This sparked outrage as many believed that the government should not be allowed to make exceptions because of fame or influence, with many Australians still not able to return to their home due to covid regulations.
After arriving in Melbourne, problems with the Serbs Visa meant that he had to be detained.
Reportedly, Djokovic arrived with a visa that did not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated and is being held in immigration detainment until further notice.
Rival and competitor Rafael Nadal told reporters:
“In some way, I feel sorry for him but he knew the conditions months ago,” Nadal said after making a successful comeback to action with a straight-sets win at the Melbourne Summer Set.
“I don’t encourage nobody. Everyone has to do what they feel is good for them but there are rules and without the vaccine there can be some troubles.
“He’s free to take his own position, but then there are consequences. The world has been suffering enough. Get vaccinated. If he wanted, he would playing here in Australia without problems.”
“Of course what’s happening is not good for Novak, in my opinion,” the Spaniard added. “[But] if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open.”
The Spanish Superstar refers to the mandate that was released early in November that required vaccination in order to take part in the Open.
With one of his biggest threats out of the runnings, Nadal has a somewhat easier path to Australian victory.
The controversy means that Djokovic will almost certainly miss out on the opportunity to win his tenth Australian Open.
Yet, in a country where cases are surging, it seems Austrailians and many of the rest of the world have little sympathy for the Serbian pro, with cases continuing to rise, vaccination in sport will perhaps have to be considered as an inevitability.