Support The Moscow Times!

Now is the time to support independent reporting from Russia!

Contribute Today

Russia Would Welcome Unvaccinated Djokovic, Tennis Exec Says

Tennis star Novak Djokovic takes his seat on a plane to Belgrade. Darko Bandic / AP / TASS

Russia would welcome Novak Djokovic at its tournaments in St. Petersburg and Moscow, a senior tennis executive said Sunday after Australia deported the No.1-ranked star over its coronavirus vaccination requirements.

Alexander Medvedev, the Association of Tennis Professionals' (ATP) general tournament director in Russia, blasted what he called a lack of judicial independence after an Australian court threw out Djokovic's bid to defend his Australian Open title and win a record 21st Grand Slam.

“I know Novak personally, I want to express my words of support to him and say that we’ll be glad to see him in Russia at our tournaments,” Medvedev told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

“It’s a very sad and hurtful incident,” added Medvedev, who also presides over the Women’s Tennis Association in St. Petersburg and the city’s Zenit football club in addition to being a senior executive at Russian gas giant Gazprom.

“The man did not commit any crimes and has spent several days in what amounts to a bullpen… Where is judicial independence?”

The Australian Open began Monday overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the unvaccinated Serbian.

Djokovic flew into Melbourne last week claiming a vaccine exemption because of a positive PCR test result on Dec. 16.

The Australian government canceled Djokovic’s visa and placed him in an immigration detention hotel.

A judge overturned that, but the government then tore up Djokovic's visa for a second time, triggering Sunday's court hearing, which the tennis ace lost.

The world men’s tennis No. 1 landed in Dubai on Monday after losing the high-stakes legal battle over his vaccination status.

Djokovic has not publicly disclosed his Covid-19 vaccination status but has expressed opposition to vaccines in the past.

AFP contributed reporting.

Read more