MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Following are reactions to Australia cancelling tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time on Friday. If a court rejects his appeal against the cancellation this would end the Serbian player’s bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Jan. 17-30 Australian Open.
AUSTRALIAN PM SCOTT MORRISON
“I note the Minister for Immigration’s decision in relation to Mr Novak Djokovic’s visa.
“I understand that following careful consideration, action has been taken by the Minister to cancel Mr Djokovic’s visa held on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.
“This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods.”
FORMER AUSTRALIAN PM KEVIN RUDD ON TWITTER
“What a surprise! Morrison’s govt cancels Djokovic’s visa to win the weekend media cycle — showing us all how hairy chested he is. Why on earth did they issue the visa in the first place? One big political distraction from empty shelves & the national shortage of boosters & RATs. (rapid antigen tests)”
OPPOSITION LABOUR LEADER ANTHONY ALBANESE
“(Scott Morrison) has been using this Novak Djokovic saga as a distraction from the shortages in our supermarkets, the shortages in our chemists, the shortages of workers, the uncertainty that people have had over kids’ boosters and the return to school and all the rest of it.
“But what we have from a government is day after day after day not making a decision where it is now almost 60 days since his visa was granted.”
INTERNATIONAL TENNIS FEDERATION, IN A STATEMENT
“While the ITF respects the Australian Government’s decision, the situation with Djokovic is disappointing for everyone involved.
“Protocols need to be clearly communicated in a timely manner and the proper process must be respected by all for it to be effective.
“And while the ITF believes that full vaccination is a personal decision, we believe this is the responsible action we must all take in order to ease restrictions and avoid such occurrences happening in the future.”
THREE-TIMES GRAND SLAM CHAMPION ANDY MURRAY
“It’s unfortunate that it’s ended up in this sort of situation, and who knows? I don’t know what route he goes down, if he can appeal that and, you know, how long that takes, and can he still be out practicing whilst that process is going on or still competing in the tournament?
“Just want it to get resolved. I think it would be good for everyone if that was the case. It just seems like it’s dragged on for quite a long time now, and yeah, not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak.”
FORMER PLAYER AND SEVEN-TIMES GRAND SLAM CHAMPION JUSTINE HENIN
“I think it’s the best thing he doesn’t play at the moment.
“When something is so complicated, I don’t say that Djokovic doesn’t have to fight, because he thought it was the right thing to do, but I think now it’s been proved that so many Australian people don’t want him to play.
“So maybe it’s better for everyone, for tennis, for the tournament, and maybe for him, that he doesn’t play the tournament.”
SUE BARKER, BBC PRESENTER AND FORMER FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION
“We wanted the number one player in the world, he could have been there by being vaccinated. I know he’s chosen not to and that is his right – but its also his choice. And with that choice comes consequences.”
FORMER WORLD NUMBER ONE BORIS BECKER, TOLD BBC
“No tennis player is bigger than a tournament.
“We have to concentrate, as sportsmen or women, back on the action on the court, not what’s happening in the court of justice. It is a political game he got involved in and that’s unfortunate.
DARREN CAHILL, COACH AND FORMER PLAYER, ON TWITTER
“Fault lies everywhere here. It’s been a mess. Novak, TA, Vic Gov, Federal Gov. It should’ve been a hard rule entering this country considering what the folks have been thru. Get vaccinated and come play the AO, or if not maybe see you in 23′. No wiggle room.”
FORMER SERBIAN TENNIS PLAYER JANKO TIPSAREVIC ON TWITTER
“Toxic Shame on each and everyone involved in this process…”
LOU RICCIARDI, FAN AT MELBOURNE PARK, TOLD REUTERS
“I do agree with what the government has done. Rules are rules. If you break the rules there are a lot of consequences.
“It’s unfortunate for the Open but … the Open is bigger than just one man. The other players have got to just put up with what’s happened and hope there’s no distractions.
“I feel the government did the right thing to keep us healthy and safe.”
FORMER AUSTRALIA CRICKETER SHANE WARNE ON TWITTER
“Novak is a great tennis player & one of the all time greats. No doubt. But he’s lied on entry forms, been out in public when he knew he had COVID & is now facing legal cases.
“He’s entitled to not be jabbed but Oz is entitled to throw him out! Agree?”
FORMER SERBIAN TENNIS PLAYER VIKTOR TROICKI, TOLD CNN
“There has already been for 10 days a lot of speculation and a lot of different decisions being made by the Australian government and Australian law.
“It’s a lot of confusion. I think it’s more than obvious that it’s a political thing and has nothing to do with sport which is really sad.”
ELAINE PEARSON, AUSTRALIA DIRECTOR AT HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, ON TWITTER
“Cancelling #Djokovic’s visa again exposes the Kafkaesque nature of Australia’s immigration regime.
“Minister claims it is in the ‘public interest’ when it conveniently serves a political purpose.
“Meanwhile 32 refugees & asylum seekers remain detained in Park Hotel.”
(Compiled by Aadi Nair, Manasi Pathak and Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra, William Maclean, Catherine Evans and Frances Kerry)