A fellow anti-vaxxer on the tennis tour has thrown his support behind Novak Djokovic and trashed Australia for its handling of the saga.
Tennis star Tennys Sandgren has slammed Australia for its treatment of Novak Djokovic as the world No. 1 waits to see whether he will be allowed to stay in the country after touching down in Melbourne.
Djokovic was granted a medical exemption to play in this month’s Australian Open — where all players need to be vaccinated to compete — sparking a furious reaction among fans and pundits alike.
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But reported paperwork complications mean he’s been kept under police guard at Tullamarine airport and the Victorian Government has said it will not support his visa application.
Djokovic’s dad released an explosive statement to Serbian media saying the 20-time grand slam champion’s fans would revolt if he was kept captive and world No. 96 Sandgren also threw his support behind the 34-year-old.
Sandgren has been vocal about his anti-vaccination views and won’t be playing in the Australian Open because he is unvaccinated. He said on Twitter on Wednesday he hopes “he wins the whole thing” in relation to Djokovic at the upcoming grand slam.
Sandgren also mocked Victoria’s Acting Sports and Major Events Minister Jaala Pulford because of her comments on Wednesday night.
“The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia,” she said.
“We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.
“We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions a matter for doctors.”
In response to those remarks, Sandgren tweeted: “LOL trusting the science once again.”
When news broke Djokovic was being held at the airport, Sandgren defended the process by which Djokovic was granted an exemption and took aim at Australia.
“Just to be crystal clear here 2 separate medical boards approved his exemption. And politicians are stopping it,” Sandgren wrote.
“Australia doesn’t deserve to host a grand slam.”
It’s important to note Tennis Australia did not give permission for Djokovic to play while remaining unvaccinated. His exemption was the result of a review process involving two independent panels of medical experts — the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health.
Last year Sandgren blasted Australia for making players quarantine ahead of its grand slam, calling it a “joke” and asking how athletes could possibly be expected to compete after isolating in a hotel room before a major tournament.
This year, the American did not apply for an exemption — unlike Djokovic — because he accepted he did not meet the criteria needed for an unvaccinated player to compete at Melbourne Park.
Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg posted on Twitter this week: “Tennys Sandgren is pulling out of the #AusOpen because of the vaccination requirement here.
“Sandgren did not try to apply for any medical exemption, he told me, because he did not meet any of the criteria listed for one.”
Sandgren has made the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in 2018 and 2020 and last year was in the headlines when he was given permission to fly Down Under despite testing positive to Covid-19 in a confusing ordeal.