The 2022 Australian Open Begins . . . Without World Number One (And Hublot Ambassador) Novak Djokovic
It seems that my entire world has been following the Australian Open tennis saga over the last couple of weeks – even people who generally do not follow tennis. So as the first Grand Slam of the tennis calendar 2022 gets underway this week, I’d like to briefly examine Novak Djokovic as he relates to our watch world.
The previous Seiko ambassador – who went to the Japanese giant from Audemars Piguet – signed up with Hublot last year, an announcement the Nyon-based brand made in late August 2021. Djokovic had been a Seiko ambassador since 2014, with the renewed contract between the world-class athlete and the world-class watch brand running out at the end of 2020.
I don’t know why Djokovic and Seiko didn’t continue together as it seemed to work on many levels from my perspective. The move to Hublot was shocking to me, though, as Hublot’s LVMH sister brand TAG Heuer is making some serious moves into tennis – including a partnership with Naomi Osaka, which was announced at this time last year – despite Rolex’s dominance of the sport in terms of marketing and ambassadorships. My esteemed “tennis and timepieces” colleague and dear friend Miguel Seabra told me that TAG Heuer’s newfound love of the white sport has a lot to do with its young CEO’s love for it.
While Hublot has undoubtedly already had a toe in tennis waters, with partnerships with Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, and Borna Ćorić, and Wimbledon 2019 women’s champion Simona Halep, the brand seems to be going all in with the acquisition of 20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic, Coronavirus, and the Australian Open 2022
But now Djokovic, a controversial figure in tennis due mainly to his temper and questionable behavior in the COVID era, has made a serious misstep resulting in a ten-day legal process in Australia over whether he would be able to stay for the tournament he has won the last three years running – three out of nine Australian Open titles of his career – and, finally, deportation.
Djokovic is an anti-vaxxer, which would make international travel for any mere mortal difficult (if not impossible). However, despite the Australian Open’s leadership saying that participants must be fully vaccinated, it made an exemption for Djokovic, a decision, only later revealed to the public, that was based on Djokovic’s “recent Coronavirus infection.”
Arriving in Melbourne on January 5, 2022, from Spain, Djokovic was detained and questioned by Australian federal officials at the airport before being sent to a quarantine hotel. Apparently in Victoria, Australia, a previous coronavirus infection is not valid for vaccination exemption.
Djokovic appealed the decision, and an Australian judge reinstated his visa five days later. Documentation presented during those legal proceedings showed that he tested positive for a Coronavirus infection on December 16, 2021, in Belgrade, Serbia. Social media postings however showed that he had attended two public events on the same day and another the next day, where he presented awards to children. A French reporter with L’Equipe came forward to explain that he had conducted an interview with the tennis player on December 18 and was not informed of the positive testing.
Voices in the media – and everywhere else – certainly then got loud about whether Djokovic had falsified information on his entry form to Australia. Either way, there was no way out of this for Djokovic without seriously damaging his reputation and endangering sponsorship contracts. Djokovic acknowledged mistakes and made excuses.
Australia’s immigration minister finally revoked Djokovic’s visa on Friday, January 14, three days before the Australian Open was due to start. On Sunday, January 16, he was deported, quashing his quest for a record twenty-first Grand Slam title – currently he is tied at 20 with both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – and a tenth Australian Open title. The possibility exists that Djokovic could be barred from entering Australia for the next three years according to the country’s laws on visa cancellations. Seeing as the current world number one is already 34 years old, that might make any more bids for a Grand Slam title during his active career quite a bit more difficult.
Djokovic’s future might be complicated as I could imagine other countries possibly following suit if he does not get vaccinated. And if he does not clean up his act he will be risking sponsorship contracts. See Maria Sharapova’s release from her contract with Hublot LVMH sibling TAG Heuer in November 2016 following the doping scandal that forced her to take a one-year break from tennis (which she never quite recovered from).
It will be interesting to see what – if anything – Hublot does in the wake of what I believe is scandalous, untrustworthy behavior.
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Anti-vaxxer or vaccine hesitant? Is it because of the controversial research being called into question now as the CDC (US government entity responsible for infectious disease and response) reverses course on earlier stances? Could it be that he was a critical thinker when the rest of us were lemmings (me included) trusting the powers that be when we should have known better? Point is, I wouldn’t go around judging others for their decisions without having all the facts when clearly no one has them.
I think that’s it’s safe to say that Djokovic is an anti-vaxxer John, he is on the record as saying he wouldn’t get a COVID vaccine even before the vaccines were developed. And I’d have more confidence in describing him as a critical thinker if he didn’t also believe
“I’ve seen people and I know some people that, through that energetical transformation, through the power of prayer, through the power of gratitude, they manage to turn the most toxic food or most polluted water, into the most healing water.” A claim that’s easily testable.
Then there’s also his apparent support for Milan Jolovic, a former commander of the notorious Drina Wolves paramilitary unit, which participated in the genocide against Bosniaks in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Djokovic has a lot of good points and is an excellent tennis player, but he’s not much of a role model as a ‘critical thinker’.
It seems that it is very easy to judge a great person with a big heart – especially for those that live far away from his region and without a deeper understanding of context for many situations that have been used as building blocks for this unfortunate Australian Open episode.
As a tennis player, Novak Djokovic has already done so much, that he can retire and play baseball or golf, spend finally some quality time with his children and remain a living legend. As a philanthropist, he probably already did more than the majority of us on this planet and even more than those with far greater funds on their bank accounts. As a colleague, he has inspired a whole new generation of young promising players and most importantly supported them much more than some of the better “role models of critical thinking” that you are referring to.
Unfortunately your reference to Milan Jolovic seems to show how limited your knowledge is and how easy it is to chose the facts in which you believe in and allow yourself to tarnish and polarize the image of one extraordinary person, that has had a much more difficult journey than most of his peers in the tennis world. If your statement statement were true, Novak Djokovic would not have helped and supported initiatives for children in all of the ex Yugoslavian republics, nor he would have been a welcome guest in all of the countries that used to be one. The resources are there, you really have to open your eyes and your soul.
Instead of bashing this great person, I would kindly suggest you to check your facts, look at this from different angles, maybe speak to someone who actually knows him, knows his story and really understands what happened in Australia.
And to conclude, please, the term anti-vaxxer should not be used next to his name, as Novak Djokovic has never encouraged anyone not to be vaccinated. If you look into his public statements, he believes that people should be allowed to make their own choice, which is not the same.
Not willing to take this discussion further, as we may agree to disagree on this, it is important to step up and say enough to statements such as you have shared as this extraordinary personality has been taken advantage of by all of those who have done far less for this world to become a better place.
I very much appreciate how you have presented your counterpoint; thank you for the well-written and detailed comments.
For me, however, the breaking point came when I learned that Djokovic had tested positive and agreed to an interview without informing the journalist who interviewed him that he was Covid positive (not to mention the children he also endangered with his Covid-positive yet maskless presence). Everything else could be explained away somehow, but that disregard leading to not allowing people to make their own decisions as to whether they wanted to be near the sickness was the thing that broke my dam.
I would also like to say that my good friend and tennis commentator/expert Miguel Seabra does know him personally, and he and I are constantly discussing whether Djokovic is an anti-hero or simply misunderstood. While some of Djokovic’s previous actions have not made me a fan — behaviors I have witnessed at tournaments when the cameras are not rolling for a personal example — I can certainly live and let live. But that episode pushed it over the cliff for me. That is simply not role model material.
I agree to disagree for sure: it is nearly impossible to change people’s minds on much anything when they are already made up. But discussion certainly does help some of us make sense of things.
Thanks again for reading and taking the time to reply.
I don’t think ANYONE here has even remotely suggested that NJ isn’t a person with a big heart! Nor, that he’s not generous! Nor, that’s he not exceedingly wealthy! Nor, that he’s not a great tennis player!
Rather, the issue is more along the lines of his thought processes. I’m left wondering how it is that he was tested positive and yet, he CHOSE to surround himself with children and NOT notify the people in charge of these children of his infectious status. Or, perhaps, was his “critical thinking” along the lines of “herd immunity” by infection?
Sorry, but all the red herrings in the world cannot change that which is!
Y’all need to stop with the labels. Because he does not want to get that injection does not mean he’s an “anti-vaxx”. This label is damaging, misleading and in clearly used to categorize people negatively.
We cannot judge a person we don’t know on whether he or she feels like getting a shot in their system, without sufficient research.
But how easy is it now, in this “woke” world, when anyone steps out of line or simply to discredit a person to say, “Oh, she’s anti-vaxx”, therefore isn’t to be taken seriously. This is enough.
This covid shot is not a vaxx, let’s say it clearly. This is documented and no one is denying it. Words matter. One can chose not to get jabbed, yet have several other vaccines up to date.
As for the journalist who interviewed him, if she or he was “vaxxed”, where is the issue? It feels like a lot of people of got that shot know that they have been fooled and are now trying to make people who haven’t, pay for their personal lack of judgement.
Elizabeth. Your comment… Have you never sneezed or caughed in public, before or during covid? Have you been living with a mask on 24/7 since the beginning of covid? Do you always sanitize your hands before entering a store or restaurant? At some point I think we need to look at ourselves.
It’s time to leave people alone with their body decisions. It does not belong to others.
Damn an article like this on a watch site. That’s sad.
Hi Bern, “anti” means opposed to, and I agree that there are many people who are not opposed to vaccinations in general but for some reason or another are not comfortable with a COVID vaccination. I agree with you that those people should not be labeled anti-vaxxers. But Novak Djokovic is not one of those, he is against vaccinations in general and is on the record as stating he would not get a COVID vaccine long before the vaccines had been available. You are correct that he is not loudly encouraging others not to be vaccinated, but he is still a very high profile anti-vaxxer (opposed to vaccines).
And I agree with you that is his, and anybody else’s choice, I’m not for vaccine mandates – as long as their choices do not harm anyone else.
Thanks for sharing your views. More watches coming up.
More like a weird flake, most on the time.
Firstly, he is not antivaxer, he was against covid vaccine to take so soon after making. He believes it takes many years to know about side effects and does it helps.
Second, he is not fun Milan Jolovic and he does not support him. Stop spreading untrue stories. He was at the wedding if I remember correctly, I’m sure there was celebration, that was made by people he knows and Milan was there as a guest too. He didn’t know, he couldn’t stop people coming that you, me or other people don’t approve of.
He is excellent on the court and off the court. Great person. He is helping to his country and other countries too.
It is possible to be a critical thinker and pro-vaccine you know. Just because the majority do something does not make them lemmings – in fact it’s hard to imagine a less critical understanding of things than that. We’re hardly lacking for detailed arguments, analysis and data on all sides; like most people, having given deep thought to all of that – and also to my sense of duty towards my fellow citizens – I could find no reason to avoid vaccination. It’s Djokovic’s clear sense that his duty is primarily to himself, rather than those around him (including when he’d tested positive and went to a press junket) that makes his actions particularly appalling. I’m sure Seiko are happy to be shot of him; for Hublot, obnoxious arrogance is the coat they wear anyway.
Please explain your notion of “controversial research.” At no time did the CDD state that the vaccines would eradicate any infection. Nor, did they state that the vaccine would totally eliminate further infections.
The reasons they won’t say that is because the virus mutates and will continue to mutate going forward. The S-protein continues to evolve in order to ensure it’s survival.
The purpose of the vaccine has always been, and will continue to be, a drug that aims to reduce the “severity” of the infection in a patient and, therefore, reduce his/her chance of suffering a severe illness leading to hospitalization. It’s also based on the findings of research focusing on the variant at hand.
So, yes, it’s entirely possible that the present vaccines may not be as effective on future variants as it is on the variant it was designed for. However, the present vaccine is effective on the Delta and early variants of Omicron, which will continue to mutate so that future vaccine will need to be designed to handle them going forward.
So, when you speak of “critical thinkers” like Novak Djokovic, can you please explain to me where his “facts” were derived from? Or, did he hear them from around the water cooler that so many of these “experts” heard them from? I know he’s a great tennis player but I’m “almost” sure he’s not an immunologist, virologist, or epidemiologist?
Or, is he?
Secondly, people (and Novak included)… do not live in an isolation bubble! By virtue of his standing as a tennis player, he has a huge impact on others both, young and old. People following his advice will become ill and be treated (some successfully and others, not so much!). If Novak became ill, we ALL know that he would be rushed off to some of the world’s best facilities and be treated by the experts in their fields. Most people aren’t so lucky. [Just look to the numbers who died in Italy, Spain, and the US.]
Where will the average citizen go for treatment? Most likely to a hospital more in the process of sinking and overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.
I’m entirely in Elizabeth’s corner on this one!
It’s very sad to see a big champion’s behavior like Novak’s, but no injections? Or better fear to lose money, winning again brought to this final end. I wonder what would have said De Coubertin!!! Bu he lived in a Jurassic era…
Thank you for reading and commenting, Elena. I think we are on the same page.
In a world of lies, the truth is dangerous.
You should stick to your excellent commentary about watches and avoid subjects outside your expertise. Last November, the CDC said they have no documented cases of people with natural immunity transmitting Covid. That’s why the Australian health authorities originally said Djokovic was a “very low risk” for transmitting Covid. Yes, zero constitutes “very low.” On the other hand, vaccinated persons, someone like me, for example, can still get Covid (I did) & transmit the virus to others. The primary value of the vaccines is to reduce the severity of the illness & to prevent deaths. Those who already had Covid don’t need the vaccine.
Hi Mike, now you are spreading falsehoods. The CDC did not say last November that, “. . .the CDC said they have no documented cases of people with natural immunity transmitting Covid.” Laura Ingraham said that falsehood on her show on Fox News. In fact the CDC does have ample evidence of previously infected people getting COVID again.
The CDC does track and record COVID-19 cases of unvaccinated people who were previously infected and tested positive again. The agency issued one such report from Kentucky, where five residents in a skilled nursing facility tested positive for COVID-19 twice within three months. Those cases occurred in 2020, before the first COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for emergency use. The agency released another study from Kentucky in 2021, this one finding that unvaccinated people with prior COVID-19 infection were 2.34 times more likely than vaccinated people to catch the virus again.
Hi Mike, I’ve done a bit more research (and this is from UK data, not CDC). Before Omicron, a prior infection offered very good protection (up to 85%) against reinfection, which was around as good as being fully vaccinated (2 shots). However, with Omicron, a prior infection offers 20% protection, whereas a booster shot is 4 times more effective at 80%. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/232698/omicron-largely-evades-immunity-from-past/
WOW! I’m speechless in regards to your comments!
All I can do is to SMH and LOL! I’m thankful I didn’t have a mouthful of
coffee when I read your diatribe.
Misquoting something from the CDC doesn’t support your falsehood!
BTW, I was responding to Mike’s comments and not Ian’s, whom I’m in full agreement with!
I coached ball kids at the Indian Wells tournament for many years and until 2016. Early in his career Djokovic, when he got behind in a match, called for a trainer and often held his hand near his abdomen, as if he had pulled an oblique muscle. After a few minutes, he would often come roaring back and win or almost win. This became well known in the ATP circles. He also contended he had allergies to unspecified allergens.
IN 2015 he played the final against MArdy Fish, who had made a huge comeback from a cardiac issue and we now learn some emotional difficulties. My team was hand-picked ad I made sure the triplets who live locally but were born in Belgrade were on the court for the finals. Djokovic easily won the championship and was very kind to Fish. In the tunnel out of public view the three ball kids had a Serbian flag and when he saw the kids with the flag Djokovic became emotional with tears and hugged each of those kids. He met their mother, who is a local physician and seemed genuinely moved by the irony of his countrymen being in the California desert.
So, much like everyone else, he has his good traits and his not very good traits. He was kind to Fish and to the ball kids in victory. However, in anger at the US Open he smacked a ball hard into the backstop hitting a line judge in the throat. He was visibly contrite but was summarily disqualified from the US Open.
Meanwhile closely watching players who seek a trainer and a breather in my local tournament he remains the only male player who used injury timeouts, but many female players especially from Russia did that too.
Where to start?
Perhaps it’s best not to bother.
Yes, rules apply to you too, Djokovic. You lied on your paperwork as you knew you didn’t meet criteria to enter. You put others in jeopardy of Covid with total disregard of their heath in an interview while you had Covid. How hubris can one be?
Well-stated and I hope the Australian government does ban him from entry into the country for 3 years!
In Canada, lying on a Customs form is a serious offense and is NOT taken lightly. I
wouldn’t think Australia’s Customs Protection Services would be any different.
Novak Djokovic needs to be banned for unsportsmanlike conduct. If anyone is not willing to vax to help save the lives of others they quickly become someone you cannot trust or believe in.This sentiment is shared by many pros.
Ian quoted ND’s belief, as follows:
“I’ve seen people and I know some people that, through that energetical transformation, through the power of prayer, through the power of gratitude, they manage to turn the most toxic food or most polluted water, into the most healing water.”
This kind of reminds me of a story I heard regarding the flooding in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina:
As the water continued to rise, one of the residents moves from the ground floor up to the second floor of his home. The water continued to rise until, eventually, he ends up on the roof! Still, the water levels crept up! A man in a rowboat comes along and says, “Hop in and I’ll take you to safety!”
The homeowner says, “No, no, God will protect me!” So, the man sails off!
Still the rains continued and the water level increased to the point where the man is forced to climb up on to the chimney. While clinging on to dear life… another man comes by in his power boat and offers to rescue the resident. Once again, he rejects the rescue and says, “God will come and save me!”
Finally, he couldn’t hang on any longer and drowns. Upon arriving at the Pearly Gates of Heaven, he’s rather disappointed and asks, “God, I’ve believed in you all these years! So, why did you not rescue me and let me drown”
God quietly replies, “Well, WHO do you think sent those two rowboats??”
[No, no, no… I’m not making light of the poor folks who suffered huge losses as a consequence of the flooding in New Orleans. Nor, am I making fun of religion. Nor, am I equating mankind with God! Ok?]
By the way, I use to be a huge fan of Novak Djokovic but can’t proclaim to be one any longer!
Regardless of his status, NJ chooses to game the system in visiting Australia. Perhaps its his wealth, his persona, his sponsorships, maybe his arrogance that I am above receiving a simple vaccine…while the rest of the population, for the most part is required to do so….for the Greater good. His actions have endangered others…again by his decision to avoid the vaccine. Meanwhile here is the USA, nearly 900K people have died from Covid, the vast majority who chose to be non vaccinated. Simply put, their decision cost them their lives and placed more of us at risk.