HomeSportsTennisNadal slams Djokovic over Australian Open vaccine debacle

Nadal slams Djokovic over Australian Open vaccine debacle

Tennis star Rafael Nadal did not mince his words when he was asked to weigh in on the current dilemma of his peer, Novak Djokovic, who has been detained in Australia after having his entry visa revoked due to issues with his Covid-19 vaccination status.

“If he wanted, he will be playing here in Australia without a problem,. No, he went through another (route)” said Nadal, as seen in a video clip from his media conference shared by Bloomberg. The Spaniard, who is fully vaccinated and has just recovered from a quick bout with Covid-19 in December, made a dig at the Serb’s attempt to get exempted from the rules.

He then pointed out that Djokovic made a decision and must face the consequences.

“In some way I feel sorry for him, but at the same time, he knew the conditions” added Nadal, referring to the Australian Open’s rule of only allowing fully vaccinated players to participate. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also warned Djokovic that he will be asked to provide sufficient proof that he is eligible for a medical exemption upon entry.

True enough, the Serb was stopped at the border on Wednesday and was denied entry. His team managed to delay his deportation while the visa issue is being sorted, but he is to remain detained at the Park Hotel in Melbourne in the meantime. The visa was reportedly revoked on the grounds that his team applied for the wrong kind of visa needed for someone with a medical exemption, and he has allegedly failed to provide proof of his eligibility for the vaccine exemption in the first place.

Djokovic will await his fate until Monday, when a court hearing will take place to decide if he will be deported or not. Tennis fans are eager to see him defend his title at the Australian Open, but many Victorians are also outraged by the exemption, given the fact that they themselves have been subjected to strict rules over the past two years.

“It’s normal that the people here in Australia get frustrated,” said Nadal. “because they have been going through a lot of very hard lockdowns and a lot of people were not able to come back,” he added, referring to the Australians who were stuck outside the borders when travel restrictions were first put in place in 2020. “The world, in my opinion, have been suffering enough to not follow the rules,” he concluded.

A Serbian tennis fan waves a flag as he awaits Novak Djokovic in Melbourne on January 6, 2022, shortly before Australian officials cancelled the tennis star’s entry visa Photo: AFP / William WEST
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