Former tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky has blasted the decision to deport Novak Djokovic the day before the 2022 Australian Open gets underway. This weekend, Djokovic lost a court appeal after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancelled his for a second time and he now faces a three-year ban from entering the country.
The record nine-time and reigning Australian Open champion arrived in Melbourne on January 5 after being granted a medical exemption by Tennis Australia and the Victoria State Government.
Djokovic is a renowned anti-vaxxer, and with Covid cases sky-rocketing in the country, he was held by the Australian Border Force before staying four nights in an immigration detention hotel.
He won his first appeal and was set to begin his title defence against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday but was stripped of his visa again earlier this week.
And on Sunday, the Federal Court of Australia upheld the decision to deport him after he provided false information on his travel declaration, failing to note he was in different countries within two weeks of arriving.
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In the aftermath of the decision, past and present players haven’t been too vocal in support of Djokovic and his Covid vaccination beliefs.
But Stakhovsky has leapt to his defence, labelling the Australian government’s actions as ‘beating common sense’.
He said: “A very sad day in the 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 believes, which are different from others.”
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The former world number 33 has already criticised Djokovic’s treatment in Melbourne, putting his initial stint in immigration detention down to a ‘political ego’.
On January 6, he tweeted: “When next time somebody will tell you ‘sports is not interfering with politics’ you remember January 6, 2022, when purely political ‘ego’ is not allowing best tennis player in the world to enter the country to which they ‘governmental institutions’ granted entry.”
After releasing a statement on the verdict, Djokovic reportedly won’t be discussing the fiasco again until after the Australian Open.