Australia vs. Djokovic: Was that a malicious tactic?

Novak Djokovic PHOTO: Reuters

First, Djokovic was issued a visa, and then the door slammed under his nose. The whole behavior of the authorities looks like malicious tactics and reveals the cruelty of a policy that should be reconsidered, writes A. Walsh.

Tennis star Djokovic has experienced the brutality of Australian border policy. Authorities initially issued him a visa to enter the country, despite knowing his views on vaccines, and when he arrived, they simply slammed the door under his nose. All this looks like an extremely malicious tactic, he reports Deutsche Welle.

Meanwhile, a court in Melbourne ruled in favor of the 34-year-old tennis player and ordered his immediate release from the hotel for people who have to leave the country. But that success in court does not guarantee Djokovic that he will have the right to defend his title at the Australian Open on January 17. The country’s government has already announced it will examine the possibility of revoking Djokovic’s visa.

Many Australians see the unvaccinated Djokovic’s stay in Australia as a personal insult to Stoic efforts to tackle the pandemic. They spent months in the lockdown and were vaccinated en masse – including those who had doubts about the safety of the vaccines. Therefore, the refusal to allow Djokovic in the country met with considerable approval.

Restrictive border control as a tool

But the authorities could have made that decision even before the Serb took the plane to Australia. Their last-minute change provoked a small border crisis and allowed them to divert public attention from inconsistent pandemic policies.

Authorities won an easy double victory with the help of an obsolete scenario – to extract political capital from atrocities at the border. For decades, Australian politicians from all parties have used the country’s border controls as a tool for political manipulation to divert attention from blunders.

Djokovic found himself locked up in the same hotel where dozens of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia live in complete weightlessness and have no right to enter or leave the country. And their stay at the hotel in question is a luxury compared to the plight of thousands of other asylum seekers in Australia who are miserable in internment camps off the coast. They are all victims of a brutal border policy. The mania of this border control is completely incompatible with the nature of Australia as a nation created by migrants. In the meantime, however, the cruel treatment has taken deep roots in the culture of this people.

No wonder, then, that Australia’s first reaction to the coronavirus pandemic was instinctive – to close the borders. Without even thinking about the price people will have to pay for it. This tactic has indeed been successful for too long – Australia has managed to keep the Covid pandemic out of its borders. That’s why people approved of this strategy. Many of my compatriots were even tacitly proud of this success, due to the strict border policy.

But the lockdown, like any such border regime, has caused great suffering to many people. For example, I was separated from my family for two years. And I still don’t have the right to visit him. Australia is now slowly opening its borders, but the western parts of the country where my family lives are still isolated.

At the cost of suffering

Australian citizens who were elsewhere in the world could not return home without costing them tens of thousands of dollars. And migrants living in Australia could not leave the country to visit their sick relatives abroad because they would not be allowed back. But in the eyes of the authorities, this was an inevitable evil that guaranteed success.

I have always known that Australia’s border policy is cruel. And now the whole world knows. It is good for him that the court ruled in Djokovic’s favor. But all the confusion surrounding this case has shown the world the repulsive face of Australia’s restrictive border policy. Now is the time to rethink it so that people’s well-being is higher than cheap political dividends.

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