Djokovic Allegedly to Sue Australian Gov’t For ‘Ill Treatment’ With Damages Including AO Prize Money
A vocal opponent of coronavirus vaccine mandates, the world's number one men's tennis player, Serb Novak Djokovic, was deported from Australia shortly before the country’s Grand Slam after losing a court battle to have his visa rejection reversed.
Unvaccinated Serbian tennis ace Novak Djokovic, whose battle with Canberra after being denied a visa to take part in the Australian Open made global headlines, is believed to be gearing up for further action, reported The Sun.
The current men's singles world No. 1 is considering suing the Australian government for £3.2mln for “ill treatment”, according to insiders cited by the publication.
The purported damages figure includes the £2.3mln prize money that the Serbian athlete, who won nine of his 20 Grand Slam trophies at the Australian Open, expected to have won.
A source close to his agent Edoardo Artladi was cited as saying:
“It’s well known that Novak and his family feel he was poorly treated in the quarantine hotel in Melbourne. His mother revealed how it was full of fleas and maggots. He was kept a virtual prisoner.”
Lawyer Toma Fila was quoted as adding that the player “should sue” after being subjected to “humiliating treatment”.
During his stay in Melbourne, Djokovic was forced to spend most of his time at the Park Hotel used to house asylum-seekers.
Djokovic is currently back home in Belgrade, Serbia.
18 January 2022, 14:45 GMT
The saga that started when Djokovic, who isn't vaccinated against COVID-19, landed at Melbourne airport on 5 January, and culminated with his deportation on the eve of the Australian Open.
In a further blow to the player, the deportation was accompanied by a three-year visa ban.
With the current requirements demanding that everyone at the Australian Open, from players and their support teams to spectators, be inoculated against COVID-19, Djokovic - a vocal opponent of vaccine mandates - argued he had a jab exemption. The latter had been approved by two independent medical panels and Tennis Australia – the governing body for the sport in the country – after he provided documents showing that he recently had COVID-19.
17 January 2022, 11:10 GMT
However, border officials argued that his exemption was not valid, with the visa later revoked over a violation of the country's COVID vaccination rules. Djokovic lost his 11-day legal battle as three Federal Court judges decided unanimously on 16 January to uphold Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to revoke his visa for a second time.
According to Hawke, if Djokovic had been allowed to stay despite not being inoculated, this could have incited "civil unrest".
Djokovic, 34, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the decision, yet it and would cooperate in his “departure from the country”. He added he planned “to rest and to recuperate”.
© ANDREJ ISAKOVICPeople hold a banner reading "Novak, God bless you" and another holds a Serbian national flag as they wait outside the VIP exit of Belgrade's international airport on 17 January 2022, for Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic's arrival after his deportation from Australia over his coronavirus vaccination status.
People hold a banner reading "Novak, God bless you" and another holds a Serbian national flag as they wait outside the VIP exit of Belgrade's international airport on 17 January 2022, for Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic's arrival after his deportation from Australia over his coronavirus vaccination status.
© ANDREJ ISAKOVIC
On 17 January, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not rule out that the Serbian tennis star may participate in the Australian Open tennis tournament next year, despite the three-year ban.
"It [ban to enter Australia] does cover a three year period, but there is the opportunity for him to return under right circumstances, and it will be considered at the time," Morrison said.