Roger Federer’s former coach rips into Novak Djokovic over Australian Open drama
Novak Djokovic's vaccine status bashed by Aussie TV presenter
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Roger Federer’s former coach, Paul Annacone, has called out Novak Djokovic for ignoring clear “rules” in place with the world No 1 ordered to leave Australia. Djokovic had announced earlier this week that he was given a ‘medical exemption’ to compete at the Australian Open.
Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley had originally stated back in November that all players who planned to compete in the Australian Open would need to be vaccinated.
That then changed in December with Tiley confirming some players would be granted medical exemptions in order to compete in the first major of 2022.
And it appears as though Djokovic’s medical exemption was approved earlier this week with the 20-time Grand Slam champion flying out to Melbourne on Wednesday.
However, Djokovic was then held by Border Force at the airport amid concerns over his visa application.
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He was being questioned by federal officials for hours with Australia prime minister, Scott Morrison later stating that no such medical exemption was in place and accused Djokovic of trying to “run the border”.
Djokovic’s lawyers reacted by launching an urgent court appeal to overturn the denied visa.
The meeting has since been adjourned until Monday, with Djokovic staying at a refugee centre until then.
Djokovic’s arrival in Melbourne sparked outrage among the Victoria natives, who have had to live with hard lockdowns in place during the pandemic.
And while Annacone feels sorry for Djokovic and “everyone involved”, Federer’s former coach believes there is something more going on “behind the scenes”.
“It’s startling,” Annacone said on Tennis Channel.
“It’s been an amazing 24 hours and for Novak Djokovic, this has been a tumultuous turn of events.
“He thought he did all the right things by applying for his medical exemption as per the rules by the government and once he gets there, it turns out he didn’t put his visa together properly which to me seems a little bit of a stretch.
“But obviously there are rules that you have to abide by.
“There are players in there that have gotten their medical clearance that have not been vaccinated so there are a few that are there.
“Clearly something’s going on behind the scenes with the visa and what’s going on.
“There has been a public outcry. This is a country, in particular the state of Victoria, that has been locked up basically for over 250 days last year so the public did not warm to the idea of Novak getting an exemption.
“When you’re on the pedestal as the No 1 player in the world, you are under a microscope. You’re in a fish bowl and it is very difficult to navigate.
“I totally understand the public reaction.”
He added: “I’m also told that he’s getting ready to get on a plane and be sent home.
“I think it’s quite incredible and I feel bad for everybody involved because it seems to me there’s a lot of miscommunication.”
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