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16 Jan, 2022 19:21

Djokovic ‘must pay huge sum to Australia’ – report

The tennis icon's legal wrangling with the Australian government over his Covid vaccination status and visa could leave him substantially out of pocket
Djokovic ‘must pay huge sum to Australia’ – report

Novak Djokovic's stare-down with Australian immigration officials looks set to hit the world number one financially, with a report claiming to reveal the vast costs he is said to have been ordered to pay the country's government.

The unanimous decision by Australian judges to rubber-stamp Djokovic's deportation ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2022 came with certain caveats including a potential ban for Djokovic on entering Australia for three years.

Djokovic is financially liable for "all the costs" associated with the case, which are expected to be around $500,000, according to Telegraf – a sum which would have likely fallen on the Australian taxpayer had the court reached a different conclusion on Sunday.

The world number one, who admitted afterwards that he was "extremely disappointed" with the outcome of the hearing which finally ruled out Djokovic's drive for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title win and a tenth Australian Open crown – accolades that would have set him apart from his peers as the most successful player of the modern era.

While it remains unclear exactly when Djokovic will return to Serbia, his home nation has emphasized its support for Serbia's most famous sporting export after his legal issues down under. 

The tennis icon, who has already received emphatic backing from the likes of Serbian president Aleksander Vucic and even Serbian royalty, will have a message of support displayed prominently on the Belgrade Tower in the Serbian capital on Sunday evening.

"Nole, you are the pride of Serbia," the message, which will be displayed between 8pm and 9pm local time, will read, before being replaced by the Serbian tricolor.

Angry Vucic, who has described the attempts by Australian immigration authorities to revoke his visa as a "witch hunt", castigated officials for their treatment of Djokovic.

"[Against] Novak, they wanted to show how the world order works and how they can [act] against everyone. With [this decision], they humiliated not Novak, but themselves," he said in reaction to the verdict.

"I spoke to Djokovic and told him we cannot wait to see him," he added. "I told him he is always welcome in Serbia."

Members of Djokvic's family, including father Srdjan, mother Dijana and the 34-year-old's siblings, have condemned the Australian government.

"We are very disappointed with the decision of the Federal Court and the fact that Novak must leave Australia," the outlet reported the family to have said in a new statement.

"This was not just about sports and playing in the first Grand Slam of the season in which Novak has dominated for a decade, but also politics and all the interests that prevailed in this case.

"Despite the scandalous behavior towards Novak, we believed that the sport would win. We believed that the fact confirmed by the court would be respected – that Novak has a valid visa, that justice will be served and that no 'public interests' will be an excuse for the decision that was made.

"These are difficult times, especially for Novak, but what we all have to do, above all us, as his family, is to support him more than ever before. We will be there to share the blows he received, to help him regain his energy, his faith in this sport, above all in fair play, which was completely absent here.

"We are proud of him and the strength he showed and the fight he led with dignity.

"We believe that he will come out of this situation stronger and that time will show what he has indisputably always confirmed so far, and that is that he is a great champion and a man."