Outraged Australians Rail Against Novak Djokovic's Court Victory

Many Australians reacted in disgust to the news that tennis world champion Novak Djokovic won a court case to stay in Australia, at least for the time being, on Monday, avoiding deportation by the government over not being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic flew into Australia on January 5 hoping to defend his Australian Open crown and win his 21st Grand Slam title. But the tennis player was deemed not to have adequate evidence of a medical exemption of being vaccinated.

He was held at the airport overnight and interrogated before having his visa revoked. Djokovic was then transferred to a Melbourne immigration detention facility pending deportation. He had been held by border officials until the court ruling on Monday.

Despite Monday's ruling, the Australian government said that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke still has the power to deport the 34-year-old unvaccinated Serb. If he gets his visa revoked again, the tennis star could face a three-year ban from Australia.

Australians were quick to react to Djokovic's court victory on Twitter. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was critical of current Prime Minister Scott Morrison's handling of the Djokovic case.

"Morrison just lost his case against #Djokovic. Total incompetence!," Rudd tweeted.

"Like on everything else. If they seriously didn't want him, why on earth did they give him a visa to fly here? This was conceived as one giant distraction strategy when out in the real world people can't get tested."

Rudd said: "So will the Morrison Brains Trust now cancel #Djokovic's visa anyway? Despite his incompetence, Morrison would then get to sound like a Howard Mini-Me: 'We decide who comes to this country. Nobody else.' A distraction from RAT tests, kids' vaccines & the booster shortage."

Earlier on Monday, Rudd responded to claims by Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce saying that the Djokovic visa saga was not hurting the country's international reputation.

"Bozo Joyce is kidding himself," Rudd tweeted in response. "This dumb international political circus is clearly harming Australia's standing. If they wanted to keep Djokovic out, why issue a visa in the first place? Just a distraction from Morrison's disastrous failures on Omicron?"

Zali Steggall, Independent Member of the Australian Parliament, tweeted: "So tonight's news will be dominated by the #djokovich show instead of businesses & communities struggling to keep afloat amidst govt failure to plan for enough vaccines boosters & RAT tests. I will be cheering @ashbarty [Australian tennis player], not selfish players putting others at risk."

An account named Aussie Nurse tweeted: "While an unvaccinated Novak Djokovic is in court arguing he should be allowed to stay and win a few million dollars in a tennis tournament, I'll be at the hospital sweating in full PPE as I look after critically unwell unvaccinated covid patients while making hardly any money."

Aussie Nurse later tweeted: "Just a heads up to any anti-vaxxers leaving hateful comments on my tweets, I'm too busy placing your fellow anti-vaxxers onto ventilators to have time to read all your comments."

Discussing the tennis player, Melbourne-based radio presenter Brian Peel tweeted: "He's free (for now) ... this is just a taste of what's in store (should he decide to stay). The people of Australia are mortified. To think what chaos will follow for the next fortnight is astounding. The sport, tarnished by one man."

Queensland-based teaching consultant Teresa Randal tweeted: "The question now is: Will Alex Hawke be as brave when it comes to an international tennis player as he's been with an Aussie toddler? Big man Alex - show us your muscles!"

Trade union member Anna "Da Prole" 13 tweeted: "So Novak Djokovic is allowed into Australia to play in the open? We're doing the right thing by getting vaccinated, checking in etc... But this 'supposedly' unvaccinated douche bag is allowed into the country! Mind you stranded Aussies still can't. #F***Sake"

Australian lawyer Maker Mayek tweeted: "If you're appalled by the #Djokovic debacle, pls take the time to read about Muhumed Omar, a young Somali with severe disabilities, who was dragged through the mud, despite being successful twice in the Federal Court, only for the Department to concede down the line."

On Monday evening, a few hundred Djokovic supporters gathered at the back entrance of Djokovic's lawyers' office, in anticipation of him leaving a free man after having a discussion with his lawyers. There were people playing drums wrapped in Serbian flags, chanting "Novak."

Before Djokovic was detained last week, the news spread that the world No. 1 was originally exempt from the country's vaccine requirements for unspecified reasons. This angered many Australians who have had to undergo some of the strictest COVID lockdowns and rules in the world. Residents of Melbourne alone spent 256 days in 2020-21 under severe restrictions, according to The Associated Press.

Foreigners are mainly banned from entering Australia, and those who are allowed in must be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption.

The incident has led to an ugly war of words between Australian and Serbian officials. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has called the tennis player's treatment at the border in Melbourne "harassment," while Djokovic's father has compared it to the crucifixion of Jesus. Morrison said on the day of Djokovic's detention that "no one is above these rules."

Novak Djokovic celebration
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates match point against Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan following the Davis Cup Quarter Final between Serbia and Kazakhstan at Madrid Arena on December 01, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. Djokovic on Monday won a court case to stay in Australia, and avoid being deported by the government over not being vaccinated against COVID-19, at least for the time being. Clive Brunskill