'They killed a beautiful sportsman and his career': How the world reacted to Novak Djokovic's deportation

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
'They killed a beautiful sportsman and his career': How the world reacted to Novak Djokovic's deportation - EPA
'They killed a beautiful sportsman and his career': How the world reacted to Novak Djokovic's deportation - EPA

Novak Djokovic has lost his appeal against deportation in Australia after a court on Sunday threw out his application to stay.

The ‘Affaire Djokovic’, as it is now described by L’Equipe in all of its stories, was the top story on just about every major news outlet across the world on Sunday morning and has also polarised opinion.

Here's all the latest reaction to the decision from Djokovic himself and the Australian government, to other tennis players and the Australian public.

Djokovic 'extremely disappointed' and 'uncomfortable'

Djokovic released a short statement after the court announced its decision.

"I would like to make a brief statement to address the outcomes of today’s Court hearing.

"I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.

"I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open.

Djokovic arriving at his lawyers' office on Sunday morning before the hearing got underway - Getty Images
Djokovic arriving at his lawyers' office on Sunday morning before the hearing got underway - Getty Images

"I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.

"I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love. I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.

"Finally, I would like to thank my family, friends, team, supporters, fans and my fellow Serbians for your continued support. You have all been a great source of strength to me."

Despite Djokovic’s admission that he had broken Covid rules by not self-isolating following a positive test, Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic said that “we cannot wait to see him” and that he was “always welcome in Serbia".

'It will keep Australians safe'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the cancellation of Djokovic's visa, saying the decision would help "keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe".

"It's now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer," Morrison said in a statement.

Alex Hawke, the immigration minister, said he welcomed the unanimous ruling of the judges to uphold his decision "to cancel Mr Djokovic's visa in the public interest".

He added: "Australia's strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic, resulting in one of the lowest death rates, strongest economic recoveries, and highest vaccination rates in the world.

"Strong border protection policies are also fundamental to safeguarding Australia's social cohesion which continues to strengthen despite the pandemic."

The former prime minister Kevin Rudd accused the government of using the saga to distract from domestic issues.

"The end of a week-long, political circus - all avoidable had Morrison not issued #Djokovic a visa in the first place," he wrote on Twitter.

"He then tries to look like a hairy chested Howard: 'we decide who comes here, nobody else'. Meanwhile hospital crisis off the front page."

How tennis reacted

Nick Kyrgios was the first major men's tennis player to react to the news, tweeting a 'face palm' emoji.

Alize Cornet, the women's world no61, said: "I know too little to judge the situation. What I know is that Novak is always the first one to stand for the players. But none of us stood for him. Be strong @DjokerNole."

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams' coach, added: "The big loser of this mess is the tournament. The only good news is that we will hopefully start talking about tennis."


Canadian tennis player Vasek Pospisil wrote: "Novak would never have gone to Australia if he had not been given an exemption to enter the country by the government (which he did receive; hence Judge Kelly’s initial ruling). He would have skipped the Australian Open and been home with his family and no one would be...talking about this mess. There was a political agenda at play here with the elections coming up which couldn’t be more obvious. This is not his fault. He did not force his way into the country and did not “make his own rules”; he was ready to stay home."

The Ukrainian tennis player Sergei Stakhovsky wrote: "A very sad day in history of tennis. It’s sad when politics beat common sense…The law is one for all, but interpretations are different for all. Shameful to target one because of his believes, which are different from others."

Carole Bouchard, a former L’Equipe writer and tennis journalist, said that “the way Djokovic has been treated since winning the first appeal is an utter disgrace” and that “the extremities they’ve gone to avoid losing face are shocking”.

Australian tennis great Mark Woodforde pointed out, however, that medical exemptions in Australia were for people who could not get vaccinated because of a recent case of Covid, not for people who got Covid but had never intended to get vaccinated, and that Tennis Association should have been clear on this point from the outset.

Rennae Stubbs, another former Australian grand slam winner, called it a “sad day for tennis” and expressed disbelief at how the story had unfolded.

David Law, the BBC tennis correspondent, however, pointed out that it could all have been simple if one of two things had happened: “1) Get vaccinated, Novak, like 97 of the other Top 100,” or “2) Have a rule that says you get vaccinated or you don’t play (unless your reason is so acute, and so beyond doubt that nobody sensible can dispute it).”

The Association of Tennis Professionals called it a “deeply regrettable series of events” and said Djokovic’s absence from the first Grand Slam of the year was “a loss for the game".

Ben Rotherberg, the editor of Racquet Magazine, said that there should be some accountability for Tennis Australia “for their role in this mess” but added a “periodic and important reminder that Djokovic could have avoided all this rigamarole by simply getting vaccinated like 97%+ of his tennis player peers have).”

'They killed a beautiful sportsman' - how Australia reacted

Supporters of tennis star Novak Djokovic wait outside Federal Court of Australia as Novak Djokovic loses chance to play at Australian Open - Getty Images
Supporters of tennis star Novak Djokovic wait outside Federal Court of Australia as Novak Djokovic loses chance to play at Australian Open - Getty Images

"What they did today is everything except justice,” said Natasha Marjnovic, 44, a Djokovic supporter who was wiping away tears outside the court building, told Reuters.

"They killed a beautiful sportsman and his career and for all of us who love tennis."

However, an opinion poll published by The Age newspaper on Sunday showed almost three-quarters of Australians believed Djokovic should be sent home without playing in the Australian Open.

Just 14 per cent of the 1,607 people polled said he should have been allowed to stay.

'Covid rule cheat' - how Britain reacted

Piers Morgan, as ever, had an uncompromising opinion: “Covid rule cheat, immigration form liar, & anti-vaxxer icon Novak Djokovic loses final appeal against deportation & will be thrown out of Australia without being able to compete in Aus Open. Good,” he wrote on Twitter, but there was considerable sympathy and support elsewhere.

Nigel Farage, the former UKIP Party leader, has weighed in, calling Australia a “banana republic” and said that it had become a “nasty, authoritarian state”.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting