MELBOURNE: Following are reactions to the Australian federal court upholding a government decision to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa, ending the Serbian’s bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Jan 17-30 Australian Open.
“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.”
“We are very disappointed with the decision of the Federal Court and the fact that Novak has to leave Australia.
“This was not just about sports and playing in the first Grand Slam of the season, which Novak has dominated for a decade, but also politics and all the interests that prevailed in this case.
“Despite the scandalous behaviour towards Novak, we believed that the sport would win.”
AUSTRALIAN PM SCOTT MORRISON
“I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.
“I thank the Court for their prompt attention to these issues and the patience of all involved as we have worked to resolve this issue. It’s now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer.”
SERBIAN PRESIDENT ALEKSANDAR VUCIC
“I spoke to Djokovic and told him we cannot wait to see him. I told him he is always welcome in Serbia.”
“Today’s decision... marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events. Ultimately, decisions of legal authorities regarding matters of public health must be respected.
“Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport’s greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game.
“ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination to all players.”
SERBIAN PM ANA BRNABIC
“I think that the court decision is scandalous, I am disappointed, I think it demonstrated how the rule of law is functioning or better to say not functioning in some other countries.”
FORMER WORLD NO. 1 ANDY MURRAY, TO BBC
“It is not great for the tournament because it is better when all of the top players are playing in the event.
“Novak is someone I have known since we were 12 years old, he is someone who I respect and have competed against. I don’t like he is in this situation and I don’t like he has been in detention.
“The situation has not been good all round for anyone. It feels everything here happened extremely last minute and that’s why it became such a mess.”
FORMER PLAYER AND SEVEN-TIMES MAJOR WINNER MATS WILANDER, ON EUROSPORT
“I’m surprised and I’m shocked. I’m a little bit exhausted as well because we have been hearing about this for a week. I give Novak a lot of credit for trying but at the same time he knew there might be the possibility that with the rules you have to be vaccinated.
“Could we have a new No. 1? Well, it’s possible. I think so much depends on how much Novak is allowed to travel, how many tournaments he is allowed to play, and in the end, is he going to have to get vaccinated?
“His career is on the line and he might have to do something that he doesn’t really want to do.”
FORMER AUSTRALIAN PM KEVIN RUDD
“The end of a week-long, political circus – all avoidable had Morrison not issued #Djokovic a visa in the first place.
“He then tries to look like a hairy chested Howard: ‘we decide who comes here, nobody else’. Meanwhile hospital crisis off the front page.”
CANADIAN TENNIS PLAYER VASEK POSPISIL
“Novak would never have gone to Australia if he had not been given an exemption to enter the country by the government.
“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.”
FRENCH TENNIS PLAYER ALIZE CORNET
“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”
UKRAINIAN TENNIS PLAYER SERGIY STAKHOVSKY
“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 beliefs, which are different from others.”
AMERICAN TENNIS PLAYER JOHN ISNER
“Nole always has and always will be class. He’s an absolute legend in my book that has brought so much good to millions around the world. This isn’t right.”
AUSTRALIAN SENATOR NICK MCKIM
“Djokovic gets deported to resume his privileged life. Meanwhile people who have been found to be genuine refugees continue to languish in Australian prisons after nine years of exile, murder, abuse and brutal dehumanisation. We must remove the Minister’s god-like powers. Now.”
FORMER AUSTRALIAN TENNIS PLAYER RENNAE STUBBS
“This is a sad sad day for tennis, Australia, the Australian Open and obviously for @DjokerNole. I honestly cannot believe it’s come to this...”
DANIEL VALLVERDU, COACH AND FORMER PLAYER
“Everyone in tennis from players to coaches to journalists to TV commentators... let’s make a conscious effort to turn the page and give the well deserved attention to the players competing the next two weeks. They have been training for months and it’s their time. Good luck to all!”
A billboard depicting Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is seen on the side of a building in Belgrade. – AFPPIX