Novak Djokovic at the 2021 Davis Cup semifinals
Last week, Novak Djokovic was denied entry to Australia after landing in Melbourne, raising questions over whether he will be able to defend his Australian Open crown. The 20-time Grand Slam winner is currently at an immigration detention center as his lawyers prepare an appeal against the Australian federal government’s decision to cancel his visa on Monday.
Former Australian doubles World No. 1 Paul McNamee recently voiced his opinion on social media in support of Djokovic, highlighting that the Serb followed all the rules and that an unfair deportation might damage Australia’s sporting reputation.
“Novak Djokovic, perhaps the foremost athlete on the planet, is here to defend his title. He was approved to fly here by Tennis Australia, the Vic Govt & the Prime Minister himself. He followed our rules. If deported, our reputation as a great sporting nation may never be the same,” Paul McNamee tweeted.
McNamee, a four-time doubles Grand Slam winner, achieved a doubles ranking of World No. 1 in 1981. Along with Peter McNamara, he won the 1979 Australian Open. He also won Wimbledon in 1980 and 1982 and later, with Mark Edmondson, clinched his second Australian Open title in 1983.
McNamee is widely known for being part of the Australian Davis Cup-winning teams of 1983 and 1986. After retiring from the sport, the Australian transitioned to a career in sports administration and served as tournament director at the Australian Open between 1995 and 2006.
McNamee defends Novak Djokovic in his column, says “the rules keep changing, and it’s almost impossible to keep up”
Fans seen protesting as Novak Djokovic remains In Melbourne immigration detention
In his opinion column for The Age, McNamee hinted at the unfair treatment Djokovic had to face. He highlighted that the World No. 1 cannot be blamed for the current fiasco because he was granted a medical exemption and a visa to travel to Australia for the tournament.
“Djokovic did not make the rules. He had a visa to enter Australia, and was granted a medical exemption by two authorised, independent and competent bodies,” McNamee wrote.
Digging deeper into the case, McNamee emphasized that there was a lack of communication between the Victorian government and border officials.
“The federal government says he didn’t fulfil the border requirements. That can only mean one thing, that the reasons for receiving a medical exemption by Vic Health are not the same as the federal border requirements,” McNamee wrote.”We know only too well in Australia that these inter-departmental and inter-governmental disconnects are rife, especially in the past two years. The rules keep changing, and it’s almost impossible to keep up,” he added.
Novak Djokovic’s legal team will present their case, appealing the grounds on which his visa has been canceled. A court hearing is scheduled for Monday, January 10 at 10 a.m. (GMT+11), and a decision on his deportation is likely to be made then.