‘If you want to play professional tennis, it’s a global sport… you NEED to get vaccinated’: Tim Henman insists ‘decisions have consequences’ after Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia – and adds that visa saga has been a ‘bad look for EVERYONE’
- Novak Djokovic lost his late appeal to stay in Australia and has left the country
- The world No 1’s visa saga has overshadowed the build-up to the Australian Open
- Former British No 1 Tim Henman says the grey areas should have been sorted out ‘long before Djokovic arrived at border control in Melbourne’
- Henman added that in order to play professional tennis now, given the worldwide travelling involved, ‘you need to get vaccinated’
Tim Henman echoed Rafael Nadal’s sentiment of ‘decisions have consequences’ when asked about the Novak Djokovic visa row which resulted in the Serb being deported from Australia on Sunday.
The world No 1 was set to start the defence of his Australian Open title – and pursuit of a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam – on Monday but after the 34-year-old appealed the cancellation of his visa for a second time, three judges unanimously decided the star’s visa cancellation was legal.
Whilst Djokovic was on the next plane home, former British No 1 Henman insisted that with the year-round travelling associated with life as a professional tennis player, it has become a reality that ‘you need to get vaccinated’.
Former British No 1 Tim Henman echoed Rafael Nadal’s sentiment of ‘decisions have consequences’ when asked about the Novak Djokovic visa row on Sunday
Djokovic (right), on the eve of the Australian Open starting, is now on his way back home
‘It’s been a bad look for everyone, whether that’s been Tennis Australia, the Victorian state or the Australian government,’ Henman told Sportsmail.
‘The one point I would make is that to be a professional tennis player, there are certain things you need to do. Travelling is one of them, if you don’t like it, professional tennis is going to be difficult.
‘The reality is looking at the vaccination, if you want to play professional tennis, it’s a global sport, you need to get vaccinated.
‘I absolutely respect that any human being has choice. If they don’t want to get vaccinated, I respect that – that is there choice. However, as I think Rafael Nadal eloquently put: decisions have consequences.
‘When you look at the life of a professional tennis player, when you’re travelling around the world, it would be a lot more straightforward if you are vaccinated.’
The Serbian star had his visa revoked again on Friday amid public anger in Australia
A saga which started on January 4 when Djokovic revealed he was travelling Down Under as a result of being granted a ‘medical exemption’ to play at the Australian Open, ended 12 days later with the nine-time champion on his way home following a story which made headlines worldwide.
The un-jabbed Serb said in a statement he was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the Court’s ruling and after the defending champion spent time in a detention centre for refugees in Melbourne amid protests outside, AELTC board member Henman noted that the Australian government did not handle the situation well.
‘All these grey areas could’ve and should’ve sorted out long before he actually arrived at border control in Melbourne,’ Henman, who is working for Eurosport at the Australian Open, added.
The world No 1 had been practicing this week, but he will now not participate in Melbourne
‘That’s where all of this could have been avoided. That’s the disappointing element for everyone.
‘For the Australian Open, taking place in the Victoria state in the country of Australia – and then Djokovic with his unvaccinated status – those bodies needed to communicate a lot better to understand how things were going to play out before it got to this stage.
‘It’s not whether you’re the best tennis player in the world, if you’re very famous or very wealthy, these are the rules for Australia. I don’t think the government seem to have handled it very well.
‘From my point of view as a tennis fan, I want to really draw a line under it because there’s been so many great stories from the first few weeks of the season and you’ve got a Grand Slam coming up, one of the cornerstones of our sport, and I want the tennis to do the talking now, that’s for sure.’
NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S AUSTRALIAN OPEN EPIC VISA SAGA
Novak Djokovic’s defence of his Australian Open title remains in doubt after Australian immigration officials cancelled his visa for the second time.
Here’s how the saga has unfolded:
Jan 4: Djokovic tweets that he is on his way to the Australian Open under a medical exemption. He writes on Instagram: ‘I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!!’
Jan 5: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warns Djokovic he will be on the ‘next plane home’ if his medical exemption is deemed insufficient, and is adamant Djokovic will not receive preferential treatment.
Jan 5: Djokovic’s visa is cancelled upon his arrival in Melbourne. The Australian Border Force announces that the player ‘failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements for Australia’.
Jan 6: Djokovic is sent to the Park Hotel in Melbourne after being refused a visa. He launches an appeal, which is adjourned until 10am on January 10. Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic says Djokovic is the victim of ‘persecution’.
Jan 9: Djokovic’s lawyers claim he was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he recorded a positive Covid-19 test in Serbia on December 16. However, social media posts suggest he attended a number of social events in the days following his apparent diagnosis.
Jan 10: Djokovic’s visa cancellation is quashed by Judge Anthony Kelly, who orders the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic from detention within half-an-hour. Djokovic says he is ‘pleased and grateful’ and wishes to ‘stay and try to compete’.
Jan 11: Djokovic’s title defence remains in doubt as the Australian Immigration Minister ponders whether to over-ride the court’s ruling, reportedly due to an alleged misleading claim made by Djokovic on his entry form relating to his movements in the 14 days prior to arrival in Australia.
Jan 12: Djokovic admits making an ‘error of judgement’ by attending an interview with a French journalist while Covid positive. He adds that, although he attended a children’s tennis event the day after being tested, he did not receive notification of the positive test until after the event.
Jan 13: Djokovic is drawn to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.
Jan 14: Immigration minister Minister Alex Hawke cancels Djokovic’s visa for a second time, saying in a statement it was ‘on health and good order grounds’.
Jan 16: A panel of three judges unanimously reject Djokovic’s legal argument against his second visa cancellation. He now faces being immediately deported.
Reporting by PA