The Australian government also expressed concern that on December 18, a day after Djokovic learned that he had tested positive, Djokovic received journalists at his tennis center in Belgrade for an interview and photo shoot, without informing them. Those revelations led to the second visa withdrawal on Friday.
Novak Djokovic’s confrontation with Australia
Some skeptics questioned whether Djokovic’s positive test was faked to help him earn the exemption. Zoran Gojkovic, a member of the Serbian coronavirus crisis team, said on Friday that the player’s positive test result was valid. He added that Djokovic has not broken any Serbian laws, especially since the state of emergency was lifted last month.
Djokovic is a clear minority among fellow players on the ATP Tour. More than 90 percent are vaccinated, reports the leading men’s sports organization, and most enjoy much more ease of movement.
By 2022, vaccinated players will need to do no more than an initial test after arriving at a tournament unless they develop symptoms. Unvaccinated players and team members will need to be tested regularly.
The draw for the Australian Open has already been finalized, with Djokovic leading the way and will face Miomir Kekmanovic in the first round. If Djokovic has to withdraw after the schedule is announced on Sunday, he will be replaced by a so-called lucky loser, a player who has lost in the qualifying rounds.
Martina Navratilova, the Hall of Fame player and analyst, told Australia’s Sunrise television program that Djokovic must retire alone to end the drama. “It’s just the right thing to do,” she said, “but I don’t think he will because he wants that 21st title.”
Darren Cahill, the Australian former player, analyst and coach of many top stars, said on his Twitter account that Djokovic, the tennis authorities and the Australian government, especially the state of Victoria, could be blamed equally for granting the original exemption. “It should have been a hard rule to enter this country, given what the people have been through,” he wrote. “Get vaccinated and come to the AO, or else maybe until after 23′. No leeway.”