Sydney FC star Milos Ninkovic has accused the Australian government of double standards surrounding the enforcement of COVID-19 rules for Rafael Nadal compared to Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic had his visa canceled by Australian immigration authorities because of his unvaccinated status on arrival in Melbourne last week, before winning a landmark court hearing on Monday which reinstated his freedom Down Under.
Ninkovic, a two-time Johnny Warren medalist in Australia’a A-League who shares Serbian nationality with Djokovic, suggested the tennis superstar was treated unfairly by the Australian government and held to a different set of rules than fellow tennis legend Rafael Nadal.
Nadal revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 in Spain on Dec. 20 after returning from an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi. The Spaniard then arrived in Melbourne on Dec. 31 to begin his preparations for the Australian Open.
Travel advice on the Australian Government Department of Health website states that all inbound travellers to Australia cannot enter the country if it has been less than 14 days since receiving a positive COVID-19 test – even if the individual has been vaccinated.
“Many tennis players received an exemption based on medical documentation, and only Novak was imprisoned,” Ninkovic said in a translated interview with Serbian publication Kurir.
“If you are an Australian citizen and you are not in the country, and you have COVID-19 in another country, you cannot enter Australia for the next 14 days. This applies to Australian citizens, but also to everyone else.
“No one asked the question … I remember Nadal announcing that he was infected on December 20 or 19 … and he entered Australia on December 30 or 31. Less than two weeks have passed.”
Ninkovic also spoke in detail about his feelings on Djokovic’s situation, criticizing the Australian government for their handling of the issue.
“From the very beginning, this is a political game. Every man who thinks with his head is aware of that,” Ninkovic said.
“However, here, in this country, the vast majority of people form their opinion on the basis of the media and what is served to them on TV.
“Most of them think that this has nothing to do with politics and that Novak wanted to enter Australia by force. And that’s funny … Novak had all the necessary documentation.
“They knew what they were doing from the beginning. They were waiting for him to land and close it. If it wasn’t for the political game, they would have allowed him to be with his team in the house he rented.”
Djokovic has currently started his preparations to win a 10th Australian Open crown but his future in Australia is still cloudy, with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke still deciding on whether to use his personal power to cancel the Serbian’s visa once again.
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