By its very nature, Djokovic’s is an exceptional case


We can all thank Novak Djokovic for one factor. The authorized motion he took difficult his deportation from Australia has thrown a looking public mild on all the important thing gamers on this debacle.

The first to undergo from this is Djokovic himself. Yes, as Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly stated on Monday, the tennis champion did every part he was informed was essential to get into this nation to defend his Australian Open title. But the case highlighted as soon as once more his puzzling refusal to do the only factor of all – to take a vaccine to assist defend himself and people round him. It has additionally proven his excessive recklessness. The day of his optimistic take a look at outcome was December 16 and the next day he was at a public occasion. He is additionally believed to have travelled, then signed a declaration type saying he had not.

But Australian officialdom has come out of the saga trying worse than Djokovic.

Take Tennis Australia. Yes, as boss Craig Tiley asserted on the weekend, he sought recommendation broadly, from Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (whose phrases, not for the primary time, have been abysmally unclear), and from the federal Deputy Chief Medical Officer about whether or not a latest case of COVID would enable an (unnamed) participant to squeeze across the vaccination requirement in Australian immigration legislation. Mr Tiley additionally sought assist from Home Affairs to examine on their understanding of the legislation.

But for Tennis Australia to conclude from all this {that a} earlier COVID an infection was grounds to allow journey was wilful blindness at greatest. It meant ignoring the Australian Immunisation Register type that Border Force relied upon, which states: “A previous infection is not a contraindication to immunisation against that same disease”, in addition to unequivocal recommendation in letters from the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, and his division that “people who have previously had COVID-19 [would] … not be approved for quarantine-free entry”.

The reality is Mr Tiley needed Djokovic within the nation. He wrote in a November letter that it “goes to the heart of the viability of the Australian Open”. So it seems he merely hoped for the very best.

But the federal authorities, too, has acted appallingly. If the legislation on unvaccinated travellers was so clear, why did the division refuse Tennis Australia’s request to vet particular person candidates beforehand? Or cease Djokovic on the visa-issuing stage or on the airport the place he embarked?


Worse, how did it enable two different Australian Open individuals, participant Renata Voráčová and an official, to sail by Melbourne Airport and into the competitors regardless that they, too, have been unvaccinated? Mr Tiley, understandably, took that as encouragement that Djokovic could be fantastic. The course of has additionally lifted the lid on how Home Affairs treats individuals on the airport – as The Age and Herald reporter Chip Le Grand memorably put it, a “rare insight into how the walls of Fortress Australia are bloodlessly defended, sub-clause by Roman numeral, in the dead of night”.

The court docket case illuminated all this, however didn’t adjudicate any of it, aside from the final level: that Djokovic was mistreated and lied to on the airport.