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Jan. 5, 2022 — The big surprise from the Djokovic situation

Today in Australia, a diplomatic situation has been playing out which has led to a certain degree of embarrassment in tennis circles.

Novak Djokovic, a top-ranked men’s tennis player who is amongst the best in his craft of all time, has been refused admittance to Australia because of his vaccine status. He applied for a medical exemption for his visa, which has been denied today. Djokovic also caused some consternation when he tested positive last summer in the midst of a series of exhibition tournaments. He has not publicly disclosed his vaccine status.

Djokovic is trying to enter Australia to play in the Australian Open, one of the four major tournaments on the annual calendar. He had received a medical exemption from the state of Victoria (where the tournament is held), but border authorities did not accept the exemption.

Now, there is a lot of cross-talk between the Australian central government, the state of Victoria, Tennis Australia, the national governing body of the sport, and the prime minister of Serbia, who has seen fit to involve himself in the controversy.

Conspicuously absent from all of this is the International Management Group, which not only runs the Australian Open tournament, but serves as his agent. IMG is perhaps the singular most powerful company in all of sports, handling the management of players, contracts, tournaments, and the television networks who cover them.

I get a feeling that something is going to get worked out quickly, because not having the world’s best player in a tournament will take a lot of the pretournament lustre from it, and there won’t be as many members of the public buying tickets to the event, which would reflect badly on the country as well as IMG.

Given the fact that it’s about 10 days from the start of the Australian Open, there’s plenty of time for all parties to find a solution.

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