World

What the ‘Djokovic Affair’ Revealed About Australia

Hosted by Annie Correal

Produced by Rachel Quester, Michael Simon Johnson, Eric Krupke and Austin Mitchell

With Robert Jimison

Edited by Liz O. Baylen

Original music by Brad Fisher and Marion Lozano

Engineered by Brad Fisher

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Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 player in men’s tennis, had a lot at stake going into this year’s Australian Open. If he were to win, the Grand Slam would be his 21st, making him the most decorated male tennis player in history.

But he was not vaccinated against Covid-19, flying in the face of Australia’s rules, and he was detained on arrival. Despite challenging that decision through the courts, he was ultimately deported.

In Australia, the “Djokovic affair” has become about a lot more than athletes and vaccines — it has prompted conversations about the country’s aggressive border policy, isolationism and treatment of migrants.

On today’s episode

Damien Cave, the Australia bureau chief for The New York Times.

Police officers standing guard as pro-refugee protesters were removed from a hotel in Melbourne, Australia, where Novak Djokovic was believed to be held.Credit…Loren Elliott/Reuters

Background reading

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison latched on to the Djokovic case. But with an election looming, it’s not clear that it was a political winner.

  • Novak Djokovic lost his bid to stay in Australia to a government determined to make him a symbol of unvaccinated celebrity entitlement; to an immigration law that gives godlike authority to border enforcement; and to a public outcry, in a nation of rule followers.

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Transcripts of each episode are available by the next workday. You can find them at the top of the page.


Damien Cave contributed reporting.

The Daily is made by Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Kaitlin Roberts, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Anita Badejo, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Chelsea Daniel, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens and Rowan Niemisto.

Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Paula Szuchman, Cliff Levy, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Mahima Chablani, Sofia Milan, Desiree Ibekwe, Erica Futterman, Wendy Dorr, Elizabeth Davis-Moorer, Jeffrey Miranda, Renan Borelli and Maddy Masiello.

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