Melbourne committee fears Novak Djokovic saga has damaged the city’s international reputation

Melbourne’s elite fear Novak Djokovic fiasco has damaged the city’s international reputation even MORE – after world’s longest lockdown

  • Fears Melbourne’s proud reputation for hosting international events has been damaged
  • Company chief says Novak Djokovic saga was poorly reflected on everyone involved
  • Martine Letts hopes it won’t set a tone for the Australian Open and future events










Melbourne’s reputation as Australia’s premier city for hosting major events has been tarnished by the Novak Djokovic visa debacle, a prominent business executive warned.

The world tennis number one and Australian Open defending champion can still be expelled from the country just days before the start of the Melbourne Grand Slam next Monday.

As Melbourne recovers from the world’s longest lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, an organization representing business, academia and the community fears the city could lose its reputation as Australia’s events and sports capital.

Martine Letts, CEO of the Melbourne Committee, said Djokovic’s ongoing controversy over his vaccine exemption has “shown a vengeful and intolerant face of Australia”.

Martine Letts (center) of the Melbourne Committee fears Melbourne’s reputation as Australia’s events and sporting capital has been damaged

She said the saga seemed bad to everyone involved and… showed the need for better partnerships between the private sector and governments in response to the latest Covid-19 Omicron challenge.

“It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, [the affair] has shown a vengeful and intolerant face of Australia that we cannot afford if we try to open up to the world again,” Ms Letts told The Age.

“As Australia’s global events and sports capital, we really want to be seen as competent and welcoming as we will be one of the world’s most closed-off jurisdictions in 2020 and 2021.”

She said Melbourne’s reputation has been tarnished by what she described as a “blame game” between different levels of government during the Djokovic saga.

Melbourne’s five million residents have spent 262 days in lockdown since early 2020, the longest period than any other city in the world.

As the hype over the Australia Open mounts, the city is gearing up to host more major events in the coming months, including the Australian Grand Prix and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Martine Letts fears the ongoing saga surrounding Novak Djokovic (pictured on Friday) has mirrored badly on everyone involved

Martine Letts fears the ongoing saga surrounding Novak Djokovic (pictured on Friday) has mirrored badly on everyone involved

Melbourne prides itself on its reputation as a host of major events (pictured cricket fans during the Boxing Day Ashes Test in the MCG

Melbourne prides itself on its reputation as a host of major events (pictured cricket fans during the Boxing Day Ashes Test in the MCG

“We cannot let the Australian Open debacle set the tone for the rest of this and future year and leave the door wide open for others to intervene and our [events] crown, which they will take at every opportunity,” warned Mrs. Letts.

The Djokovic saga has divided the world with many tennis fans and current American player Tennys Sandgren calling Australia to lose its grand slam status.

The saga has now entered its second week with immigration secretary Alex Hawke still debating whether or not to use his personal powers to revoke Djokovic’s visa.

Former cricketer Shane Warne is the latest sporting legend to join the debate.

“Novak is a great tennis player and one of the greats of all time. No doubt,” he tweeted Friday.

“But he lied on registration forms, went public when he knew he had Covid and is now facing lawsuits. He has the right not to be stabbed, but Oz has the right to kick him out! Agree?’

Melbourne is known for hosting international events and has spent 262 days in lockdown in the past two years (pictured, an abandoned CBD during the city's sixth lockdown)

Melbourne is known for hosting international events and has spent 262 days in lockdown in the past two years (pictured, an abandoned CBD during the city’s sixth lockdown)

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