Novak Djokovic case puts Australian government in no-win situation ahead of elections

The Djokovic visa saga could have a big impact on this year’s Australian elections as Canberra faces a dilemma with either decision likely to provoke a backlash, writes Stephen Evans

Monday 10 January 2022 15:16
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<p>A billboard depicting Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic on a building in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 Jan 2022</p>

A billboard depicting Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic on a building in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 Jan 2022

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The decision by Federal Circuit Court judge Anthony Kelly to back Novak Djokovic’s appeal against the cancellation of his visa has left the Australian government in a no-win situation.

Following a dramatic day, which saw Mr Djokovic’s initial victory in court, his Melbourne hotel besieged by fans, a press conference held by his family back in Serbia likening his treatment to “torture”, interventions from Andy Murray and Nigel Farage, questions over when the tennis star contracted Covid last month, and the player himself calmly taking to the court to practice for this month’s Australian Open, the government in Canberra has been left with a monumental headache.

After the judgment, the Australian government was considering revoking Mr Djokovic’s visa a second time, as it has the power to do. It decided to sleep on the matter – but one imagines there won’t be much rest overnight as its lawyers and spin-doctors analyse the consequences of doing so.

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