Should Novak Djokovic be allowed at the Australian Open?

Serbian tennis star and world No.1 Novak Djokovic continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons in his bid to be allowed to play at the 2022 Australian Open, and the controversy took an ‘entertaining’ turn overnight.

Channel Seven has been forced into damage control after leaked expletive-laden footage emerged of two of its presenters, Mike Armor and Rebecca Maddern, discussing the tennis ace’s bid to stay in Australia in an off-air conversation.

“Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky, a***hole,” Ms Maddern says to Mr Armor in the leaked video.

Mr Armor also calls Mr Djokovic an “a***hole” and adds “You’ve got a bulls**t f***ing excuse and then he fell over his own f***ing lies, which is what happens right? That’s what’s happened.”

The news anchors were discussing Mr Djokovic’s travel declaration to the Australian Border Force (ABF) and whether or not he had lied on the entry forms when entering Australia.

Read: What you need to do before you board an international flight

Channel Seven says the network will thoroughly investigate the source of the leak.

“There has been an illegal recording of a private conversation,” Channel Seven managing director Lewis Martin told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

“It is something that is going to be looked at and is being looked at thoroughly.”

On entering Australia, Mr Djokovic claimed on travel documents that he was exempt from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as he had contracted COVID within the last six months.

He also claimed on the form that he had remained in Serbia and had not travelled anywhere in the 14 days leading up to his arrival in Australia.

Read: You can get COVID travel insurance. But what does it cover?

But images have emerged on Twitter reportedly showing Mr Djokovic training for the Australian Open at a tennis club in Sotogrande, Spain, in early January.

Mr Djokovic then reportedly flew from Spain to Dubai on 4 January before boarding a flight from Dubai to Melbourne on 5 January.

ABF officials subsequently cancelled his entry visa and Mr Djokovic was whisked away to quarantine at the Park Hotel in Melbourne.

Mr Djokovic and his team appealed the decision in the Federal Circuit Court, and on Monday Judge Anthony Kelly found in the tennis star’s favour and ordered he be released from detention within 30 minutes of the ruling.

For now, it seems Mr Djokovic will be able to attempt to win a record 10th Australian Open title.

Read: Aussies believe they are COVID compliant. But are they?

Federal immigration minister Alex Hawke has confirmed that his office is considering whether the minister will intervene again to overturn the appeal.

News of the star’s visa cancellation and subsequent detention made international headlines, but Mr Djokovic was not the focus of much of the reporting.

Controversially, the hotel he was transported to also houses a group of refugees and asylum seekers, some of whom have been held at the facility for more than nine years.

They have repeatedly pleaded for release and complained about sub-standard conditions in the hotel, claims that were echoed by Mr Djokovic’s family and supporters.

“Djokovic may have run afoul of Australia’s border-crossing rules due to legitimate COVID-19 control measures, but what he went through is not even a fraction of what asylum seekers trying to make it to Australia have suffered,” Al-Jazeera reported.

Should Novak Djokovic be allowed to remain in Australia? Is the border force to blame or were those officials just doing their jobs? Why not share your views in the comments section below?

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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