Novak Djokovic turned away from matches due to vaccination status: Are his rights being violated?


Krithika Subramaniam

Although tennis is an outdoor sport, there are still requirements put in place to keep the number of COVID cases on the court low as possible.

Novak Djokovic was in the right

On January 5th 2022, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic was revoked of his Visa to play in the Australian tournament. Why? He was unvaccinated. However, the revocation of a Visa should not be determined by a player’s vaccination status. Novak Djokovic should have been allowed to stay in Australia to play in the Open.

“I think that he could be quarantined, and be told to follow the safety protocols. But all these countries not allowing a Grand Slam Champion to play, kind of seems like a scheme,“ said Sharma.

Back in April 2020, before vaccinations were available, Djokovic revealed that he wouldn’t want to take the vaccine clarifying that he was “no expert,” but he wanted to do what was best for his body. He also revealed that he didn’t want to be pressured into taking the vaccine to play tennis.

While some argue that vaccinations should be mandatory when playing sports, others argue that people like Djokovic are in the right by standing up for their personal beliefs.

“[Djokovic] is saying [people] are not going to tell him what [he’s] going to put in [his] body,” said P.E. teacher Mr. Cesario.

Djokovic believes that Australia keeping him from playing due to his vaccination status is a violation of human rights. He claimed that the media has spread fear and panic among the nation, and he doesn’t want to be a part of their abuse and exploitation.

Later, Djokovic did win his request- that he would be allowed to play in the Australian Open under specific conditions, such as social distancing. However, after he contracted COVID in December, immigration minister Alex Hawke decided to cancel his visa. This decision wasn’t overturned by the second court, therefore banning Djokovic from Australia.

“The world is being determined by who can do what by a shot in the arm. It’s kind of a bummer. Like you can’t go to 24 Hour Fitness in Pleasanton, but you might be able to go to Fitness 19. You know what I’m saying? So it’s a little tricky” said Mr. Cesario.

As a result of his ban in Australia, Djokovic is  about to lose another major tournament: the French Open. In January, the French Sports Ministry confirmed that a new vaccine law will pass, meaning people are required to have vaccination proof in order to enter public areas such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas, long distance trains, and sporting venues.

“I want Djokovic to at least play in the French Open. I hope COVID cases there go down, and he is able to play just because he has been in the game for so long,” said tennis player Aaron Sharma (‘25).

Djokovic is a huge hero in his home country, Siberia. The president of the country couldn’t be a bigger fan of him. Siberia believes that Djokovic is a great player, and he shouldn’t violate his beliefs in order to play in these tournaments. They believe that Djokovic should stay loyal to his “Siberian Pride.”

“Despite being unvaccinated, I do think [Djokovic] should play in the Australian Open. I think he’s a good person by heart, and I think we should respect all people’s opinions,” said Sid Nayak (‘23).

Novak Djokovic was in the wrong

Covid-19 cases are increasing tremendously worldwide. On January 19th, the world saw its biggest spike in positive cases at a high of 4,232,499 cases. With many sports starting to travel worldwide for championship, it is necessary that athletes get vaccinated to prevent further spread of Covid-19.Although it is the athlete’s personal decision whether to get vaccinated or not, the Omicron and Delta variants are still sweeping all the nations by storm. 

“If you are unvaccinated you could have Covid and be asymptomatic and could be transmissible to other players… where if you are vaccinated you statistically proven to have more symptoms and know you have it and not unknowingly spread it and transmit that to other players,” said AP Biology teacher Mrs. Ogle

Though wearing masks, using  hand sanitizer, and getting vaccinated are all preventative measures to stop the transmission of the virus, there are still people who get affected with Covid-19. However, with getting vaccinated there is a less likely chance of getting the disease, and there is a much less likely chance of the illness getting serious or deadly. Which is why stars like Novak Djokovic should be held accountable for getting vaccinated before competing in large-scale events like the Australia Grand Slam.

The Australian government was in the right for retracting his Visa and forbidding him to play in their country because of his attempt in tricking them. He still tried to play despite being told that he needs to be vaccinated for the safety of him, other players, and the audience.

In the application of trying to enter Australia to play the first of the four Grand Slam matches, he lied about being vaccinated. This caused disappointment for his fans, and raised concern for the players.          

“I personally think that it sets a good example for other people so that they are held accountable and that they need to be honest about their vaccination status and think about others before themselves.” said AP Biology teacher Cora Da Costa Pereira. 

Many agree that lying about one’s vaccination to a government and potentially putting other citizens at risk is harmful, and that it was right for the Australian government to take his visa away-the consequence being not letting him play in the opening tournament.

“I think it’s pretty deceitful and it’s actually very selfish because he’s endangering other people. I get that he really wanted to play the tournament, but if he has COVID and is carrying it then he is putting a lot of other people at risk,” said Da Costa. 

The Australian team made clear rules concerning player vaccinations. They are at no fault when it comes to fans believing Djokovics’ rights had been violated in some way.

“I don’t Djokovic has the right to play at the Australian open game, and it was right of the Australian government to take away his visa” said Saanvi Sharma (‘25).

All the other players in the match had to get the vaccine, and it would be unfair and unjust to the rest of them if one person didn’t get vaccinated. It puts the other players in danger and may even have made the grand slam take a pause from the tournaments.

“I think that he did not deserve to play because he wasn’t vaccinated, and the vaccine is there to ensure some safety for himself but more importantly to the people around him,” said Tennis Player Montana Storm (‘23).