In the last piece I wrote about the Novak Djokovic-Australian Open-Vaccination-Australian Government saga, I mentioned that this episode is far from over. Since then, this episode has taken many new turns and yes, it is still far from over.
The latest news coming from Australia is that finally Novak will not be taking part in the Australian Open, 2022. His chance of making tennis history has receded, at least for now. The next shot he will have at becoming the player with the highest tennis Grand Slam wins would now be in the French Open (a couple of months away), where someone by the name of Rafael Nadal rules and would be waiting for him.
Novak lost the appeal against the cancellation of his visa when a unanimous three-judge bench ruled that Novak's decision not to be vaccinated against Covid 19 posed a risk to the country. So he must be forced to leave Australia.
Earlier in the day, hopes of seeing Novak in action on the tennis court, other than in the law courts, had risen when the news came that because of his pending appeal against the cancellation of his Visa by the Australian Government, Novak will be playing the first round match of the 2022 Australian Open final.
He was supposed to play a late-night match against a fellow Serb on the famed Rod Laver Arena. Well, if Novak would have won that match, which was the most likely outcome, despite his presumed disturbed state of mind and lack of preparation, then the issue would have continued. But the federal court verdict has saved the conservative Australian Government from a very tricky and difficult situation.
Imagine the situation: What if Novak had won a couple of matches, while still looking good to go on to the final to defend his title and create tennis history, and still the Australian Government cancelled his visa and forced him to return home, midway through the tournament. Well, that is not happening now.
The action taken by a conservative Australian Government of detaining Novak, cancelling his visa twice and then finally declaring him a 'threat to public safety', has created a huge diplomatic storm with Serbia, where Novak is no less than a national hero. And now his final defeat in the federal court. The whole episode has seen a bitter war on social media and some spillover on the streets too.
What happened in Australia has never happened before on the tennis courts. What will be the repercussions of this all, we can only speculate. But the diplomatic and social media war will go on, this is sure.
Already a lot of tennis fans and players are showing fatigue regarding this episode, and many want that the focus should be back on tennis. A few players have voiced their opinion echoing this sentiment. But no matter what happens, the shadow of this episode will continue to loom large over the Rod Laver Arena, the tennis world and the world of international politics too.