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What the ‘Djokovic Affair’ Revealed About Australia

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 21 January 2022

⏱️ 31 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript

Summary

Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 player in men’s tennis, had a lot at stake going into this year’s Australian Open. A win there would have made him the most decorated male tennis player in history. But he arrived in the country without having had a Covid-19 vaccination, flying in the face of Australia’s rules, and after a court battle he was ultimately deported. In Australia, the “Djokovic affair” has become about a lot more than athletes and vaccines — it has prompted conversations about the country’s aggressive border policy, isolationism and treatment of migrants.

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0:00.0

From the New York Times, I'm Annie Coriel. This is The Daily.

0:07.0

Today, in most places, Australia's decision to deport the world's number one

0:15.0

men's tennis player looked like a controversy over athletes and the

0:19.0

COVID-19 vaccine. To the people of Australia, it became something different.

0:26.0

I spoke with my colleague, Australia Bureau Chief Damian Cave.

0:32.0

It's Friday, January 21st.

0:42.0

So Damian, over the last few weeks, I saw a lot of headlines about Novak Chokovic and

0:48.0

the Australian Open. And to be honest, my initial reaction was, okay, here's another

0:53.0

elite athlete whose vaccine status has caused this big commotion. But I'm

0:58.0

hoping you can help me understand the play by play. How we got to this point where

1:02.0

the tournament is in full swing, and Chokovic is not there. He's actually been

1:07.0

deported. Yeah, I mean, it's really been quite a dramatic saga. I mean, the Australian

1:12.0

Open is the first grand slam of the year. It's one of the biggest tennis events

1:16.0

in the world. And Novak Chokovic is the number one men's player in the world.

1:20.0

And he planned to come and hopefully win what would be his 21st grand slam, which

1:25.0

would make him the most winningest male tennis player in history. So for him, there

1:30.0

was a lot of stake. But you know, there's a big challenge for Chokovic, which is that

1:34.0

he's coming to Australia, which is a country that has a vaccine mandate for everyone

1:38.0

coming in. So you can't get into Australia unless you're vaccinated. And he hadn't

1:42.0

really been very clear about his vaccination status. He was pretty cagey about it.

1:46.0

And then at the last second or pretty close to when he arrives, he says, Oh, I got an

1:51.0

exemption to the mandate based on the fact that he said he had COVID in mid-December.

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