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How to save Djoker: If I was Novak Djokovic's lawyer...

It's quite the hot mess Down Under with Novak Djokovic's visa bungle causing trouble in Australia - here's how we'd like to plead for Djoker, Your Honour.

Novak Djokovic australian open legal court hearing

Saving Djoker - how can Novak Djokovic be saved from being deported from Australia? 


Sohinee Basu

C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 7 Feb 2022 12:44 PM GMT

O, не.

Before the phone could even frantically ring on the morning of 5th January 2022 - I had a feeling this would be trouble…but of the expected kind. In fact, the night before has been pretty sleepless as well ever since my client, one Novak Djokovic posted on his social media from the airport that he is off to Australia on an 'exemption permission' to defend his title and well, you know, knock open a few more doors of history - set sail for his 21st Grand Slam, if you will.

They may thank social media for many things but there is no arguing how big a nuisance the idea of social media trials are that make our jobs seem like a joke, at the end of the day. Although I do like to steer clear of such shenanigans, a minor peep wasn't even necessary to alert me that the world would erupt and have opinions about Novak Djokovic's vaccination exemption given the hush-hush nature of how it was brought out to the world, in the most public way - on social media.

However things Down Under stirred restlessly abuzz when this formal information reached them - an unvaccinated, non-Australian citizen was making his way to Tullamarine on a visa that did not account for the said exemption he had. Tch, tch a minor goof-up by Novak's team but surely that couldn't have been the string to pull to unravel the whole wool of the matter?

Alas not! It is the eve of my client's hearing at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia and yes, Novak Djokovic, my esteemed client, the reigning World No. 1 tennis player and probably, the man who will end up with most of the records to his name - is in a big, fat pickle of the legal, medical, political, diplomatic kind that has blown way out of proportion.

The beads of sweat are trickling down my forehead - suiting and booting up for an immigration battle for Novak Djokovic against the government of Australia, the country where he has tasted the most success, the country towards which his heart went out during the bushfires…well, definitely didn't see that coming in this extent and the number of eyes on this case is enough to make me palpitate and rouse myriad emotions. Phew.

A case for Novak Djokovic - looping the holes

Novak Djokovic - 9-time Australian Open champion (Source: Reuters)

A series of blurry events have taken place since Novak Djokovic's arrival at Melbourne that at best extracted a Hercule Poirot-like 'Oh, mon Dieu!' followed by a tinkering of "these little grey cells" in me. My client's visa was cancelled, he was taken away for interrogation, detained for over eight hours and then threatened to be deported on the next flight out and later, taken to a hotel housing refugees and asylum-seekers - The Park Carlton where he is still living, in a room with bugs…dare we suspect malicious intent because at best, this qualifies for definite harassment.

Utter confusion seems to be the windward direction of things as the Victorian government and Tennis Australia along with the Federal government and the Australian Border Force have been pointing fingers at each other - was it Mercury retrograde season because they surely haven't been clear with their communication and we are looking no better than a Spiderman meme now fighting this case.

Blame game - but nobody seems to want to take blame Down Under

The medical exemption for Victoria state was that anyone who had contracted COVID-19 in the past six months would be excused from being compulsorily double vaccinated. Since my client, Novak Djokovic had contracted the virus for a second time on 16th December 2021 - he is absolutely valid for obtaining exemption permission that Tennis Australia and the Victorian government handed to him after two medical boards examined his case and granted him the necessary documentation to travel.

But the Djoker was stopped at the border - stripped of the visa because the Federal government and the Australian Border Officials are not parties to allowing unvaccinated non-Australian citizens just like that. Did Tennis Australia not know this, the Victorian government not know this - why then issue an exemption in the first place if it will be flouted this way? If it was ultimately on the Federal government to take a call, did the organizers of the Australian Open really not know or was there a major lapse in communication?

They vs them - finger-pointing and a game of Chinese whispers

Novak Djokovic

Australia does work in a Federal setup which means states like Victoria have the freedom to formulate their own rules and the exemption is a by-product of one such instance but this is no ordinary case - it involves a 20-time Grand Slam champion and you cannot let your internal communication issues snowball into this big a matter at the expense of an athlete travelling to your country to play in your tennis Grand Slam.

In all fairness, my client has never been an easy one that way. Legal battles aside, what do you do with a man who is seen as the Djoker, whose anti-vaxxer attitude may (well, excuse my bias, it is) just be the root of all these issues? He is no Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal - he is the man who made a place for himself by giving the other two a run for their money, even though his argument for being the GOAT looks a little difficult now.

But what is happening is far from ugly now and there is nothing funny left about it. The outrage of the Australian public, the cheers of the riled up Serbian fans outside Carlton mix with the clamour of the refugee protestors, the strange comments by my client's father - claiming he is Spartacus, my client's own regarding vaccination and the equally strange placing of incidents since his arrival in Australia does tip the scale towards the curious side for this case - easily qualifying for defamation, wrongful commitment, et al. But this is the Federal government and all my client really did want to do was play in Australia, nothing more, nothing less.

The hours slip too easily now, the clock hands impatiently sliding towards the time of the hearing scheduled for Monday morning. Deep breaths for now as I wait impatiently too along with my team, eager for some sense and order to this.

'Your Honour, we stand before you on this (hopefully) auspicious day to represent our client, Mr Novak Djokovic who has been victim to....'

Longer and deeper breaths as I play this in my mind.

The gravel will do the final talking perhaps but for tomorrow, whether it will be able to summon order back to this chaos remains the big question as we look ahead to the Happy Slam of the calendar and something tells me the mood of this event has never been more volatile and I'm not (d)joking about it.

This court is adjourned for now.

[This is a semi-fictitious attempt inspired by the ongoing saga around Novak Djokovic and the Australian government and the Australian Open, in general. In no way, does this article plead to implicate any mentioned authorities inappropriately or incorrectly. We rest our case - may sport and a good argument win.]

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