(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Published: Fri 14 Jan 2022, 8:47 PM
Last updated: Fri 14 Jan 2022, 9:05 PM
Sports fans and a former captain of the UAE national cricket team wonder if Novak Djokovic has thrown himself into a black hole by challenging the might of Australia's government.
The unvaccinated world number one's visa was cancelled for the second time on Friday by the Australian immigration minister, despite winning a court battle on Monday.
The Serbian, who landed in Australia with 'vaccine exemption' granted by the Australian Open organisers, now faces deportation – two days before the start of the year's first Grand Slam.
Mohammad Tauqir, one of the few Emiratis to have represented UAE in international cricket, feels Djokovic could have avoided this unsavoury situation if he had played by the book.
Former UAE cricket captain Mohammad Tauqir
“I think going forward it's a big lesson for a lot of people. I think what we are going through with his pandemic, we all need to be vaccinated and be more responsible,” Tauqir told Khaleej Times on Friday.
“Of course, he (Djokovic) is an icon. He is one of the best ever tennis players in the world. But what he did was wrong,” the former UAE captain said.
“He didn't even declare his vaccination status until the Australia incident. The truth was not declared. Being a star athlete, this is not responsible behaviour.”
British expat Mark Smith also has little sympathy for the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
“There is no doubt Novak Djokovic has made a serious error of judgement with the way he has conducted himself, particularly given his high-profile,” Smith said.
“The fact his visa has been cancelled sends out a strong message that nobody is exempt from following the correct guidelines.”
Shyam Bhatia (left) with Australian cricket legend Shane Warne at the Shyam Bhatia Cricket Museum in Dubai
Shyam Bhatia, a promoter of young cricket talent in UAE, revealed why Djokovic could never replace Roger Federer in the hearts of people.
“He should have not challenged the law. Also, he lied and met people despite testing positive for Covid last month. That's not the behaviour of a role model. You know, that's why he can never be like Roger Federer who is the perfect role model in tennis,” said Bhatia, who attends the Wimbledon every year.
British expat David Young wonders if this incident will force Djokovic to take the jab as governments in France, the UK and the US – where the other three Grand Slams are staged – could soon implement tougher vaccination laws.
British expat David Young is a big tennis fan who watched Novak Djokovic live at the Mubadala Tennis in Abu Dhabi
“That's exactly my question because there is a race to be the G.O.A.T. (the greatest of all time),” said Young, referring to the three-way battle between Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal who are level on 20 Grand Slam titles each.
“What is he (Djokovic) going to do if the other governments are also going to get tough on this? It's hard to imagine that vaccination rules are going to be eased. It's going to be more stringent.
“So you kind of worry about Novak. Has he dug a big hole for himself? How is he going to come back from this?”
Presley Polonnowita played for the Sri Lankan under 19 cricket team. He is now the head coach of Desert Cubs Sports Academy in Dubai
But Presley Polonnowita, the head coach of Desert Cubs Sports Academy in Dubai and a former Sri Lankan under 19 teammate of Marvan Atapattu, Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya, feels the Australian authorities also should take the blame for this unprecedented crisis.
“First of all, we must remember that Djokovic only arrived in Australia after he was given the visa following the medical exemption. The Australian Open organisers were wrong if they asked Djokovic to come to Australia without consulting the Federal government,” Polonnowita said.
“Having said that, Djokovic also could have set a great example by taking the vaccine because people around the world look up to icons like him. As a sportsman, he has a responsibility to be a good example for mankind!”
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