What the ‘Djokovic Affair’ Revealed About Australia


Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 player in men’s tennis, had a lot at stake going into this year’s Australian Open. A win there would have made him the most decorated male tennis player in history. 

But he arrived in the country without having had a Covid-19 vaccination, flying in the face of Australia’s rules, and after a court battle 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. 

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

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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.

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily. Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday.

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