Tennis: Both Australian government, Novak Djokovic under fire after tennis champ gets visa reinstated

Reaction to Novak Djokovic getting his visa reinstated has been fast and furious, with some criticising Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and others attacking the tennis world number 1.

Djokovic, 34, was detained at the border upon his arrival into Australia last week, after travelling to the country under the assumption he had an exemption to enter despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. 

After having his visa cancelled, Djokovic was detained while he waited for the verdict on whether he'd be allowed to remain in Australia.

In a hearing in Melbourne on Monday, Judge Anthony Kelly overturned his visa cancellation and ordered Djokovic be freed within 30 minutes and his passport and other personal documents returned to him.

Kelly, who earlier in proceedings had criticised the hours-long questioning of Djokovic at Melbourne's airport when he landed on Wednesday, said both the interview and the visa cancellation "was unreasonable".

There has been an outpouring of reaction on social media to the decision with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd taking the opportunity to take a shot at Morrison. 

"Morrison just lost his case against Djokovic. Total incompetence! Like on everything else. If they seriously didn't want him, why on earth did they give him a visa to fly here? This was conceived as one giant distraction strategy when out in the real world people can't get tested," Rudd said on Twitter. 

Other politicians are also taking the opportunity to criticize Morrison for losing the court hearing to the 20-time Grand Slam champion. 

Senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young slammed Morrison, saying "the level of incompetence in the Morrison government is staggering".

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kristina Keneally said: "Mr Morrison can't manage the vaccine rollout.  Can't manage rapid antigen tests. And now he can't manage the border. Time to #votehimout." 

Djokovic has been staying at an immigration detention hotel that also holds asylum seekers and people on Twitter have used the court hearing to bring attention to them. 

"If only asylum seekers had access to #Australia's legal system at the speed #Djokovic did," journalist and human rights activist Sophie McNeill said. 

One Twitter user said: "Asylum seekers spending years in detention, I wonder if anyone has bothered to ask 'what more can they do?' Without the privilege of money and status, nothing."

People celebrate after Australian court quashes visa cancellation for Novak Djokovic
People celebrate after Australian court quashes visa cancellation for Novak Djokovic Photo credit: Getty Images

Fans of the world No.1 celebrated outside his detention hotel but the feeling wasn't the same for many Australians.

A large number of Australians have been disappointed with the result, with many saying Djokovic should've been deported. 

One person on Twitter said "send him back. Rules are there for a reason. Period!" 

Another person said: "Tbh, I hope he does get booted this way! It'll be karma for trying to screw over we Melburnians who've endured the worlds longest lockdown. He'd be gone for 3yrs rather than just this one tournament. It'd totally wreck his career and you know what? Good!"

Another angry Australian posted: "What a slap in the face for those that have done the right thing there are lots of AUSTRALIANS that couldn't get home see loved ones but this bloke just comes on it and we the taxpayers have to foot the bill - what a farce." 

Even though Djokovic's visa has been reinstated, the government's lawyer said that the immigration minister will consider using a separate power to cancel his visa.

If Djokovic does make it to the Australian Open next week, it will be interesting to see the reaction he gets from the fans.