Novak Djokovic blasted for making unreasonable pandemic demands in Australia

Novak Djokovic wins the Australian Open 2020 in Melbourne

In any other year, I would be half-dead with sleeplessness during the last weeks of January because of the Australian Open. Ordinarily, the AO starts in mid-January and goes on for two weeks. Because of the pandemic and the logistics of it all, the AO got pushed back three weeks, and it’s now scheduled to begin on February 8th. Part of the deal that Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley made with the Australian government is that the AO would get pushed back, that all players and their limited teams would quarantine for two weeks in specific hotels (a “bubble” situation like they did in NYC for the US Open) and that instead of spreading out the pre-AO tournaments around various cities in Australia, players would get their pre-AO matches in tournaments hosted on-site in Melbourne, on the AO courts, or in Adelaide, which is where many top players will be playing an exhibition-style event on the week of Feb. 1st.

For months now, Australians have made tons of sacrifices to get their coronavirus infection rate down to zero. Leading up to the invasion of tennis players, the country had zero new infections for days/weeks. Australia did this through strict travel restrictions, mask mandates and by taking the pandemic very seriously (unlike other countries, including the US). Since the AO-chartered planes arrived in Melbourne last week, there have been almost a dozen positive corona tests, all from players or their support staff. So the Australian government implemented even stricter quarantine rules for the visiting players who traveled with covid-positive people – they would not be allowed to leave their hotel rooms even to move around in the bubble. They would be under strict 24-7 quarantine for two full weeks. That affected about 75 players & their support staff.

The amount of whining from these professional athletes has been extraordinary. They have complained about the food. They have complained about the restrictions. They have complained about the lack of practice time, if they’re in the stricter lockdowns. And so Novak Djokovic, the #1 player in the world, decided to send a letter requesting all kind of dumb sh-t. This is the same Novaxx Djocovid who literally hosted “Adria Tour” superspreader events last spring which left many players and tennis fans infected, including Novak himself.

Novak Djokovic has reportedly sent a series of demands to Australian Open boss Craig Tiley after a further 25 players were forced into hard quarantine on Sunday. A total of 72 players arriving for the Australian Open will be confined to their hotel rooms for the next 14 days after three chartered flights returned five positive COVID-19 cases. A fifth person, who had flown into Melbourne on an Australian Open charter flight from Doha, tested positive on Sunday night after arriving on Saturday.

It means three Australian Open charter flights have now brought in passengers who later tested positive, following infections on planes from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi. A number of players have hit out at the conditions they are faced with for the next 14 days, unable to train or see their coaches in preparation for the first tennis grand slam of the year. That has prompted men’s World No.1 Djokovic – the former head of the ATP Player Council – to reportedly send a letter to officials calling for changes.

According to Spanish journalist Fernando Murciego, Djokovic has called for the following changes: Fitness and training material in all rooms; Decent food, according to the level of the tournament and from an elite athlete; Reduce the days of isolation for the 72 isolated players, carrying out more tests that confirm that all are negative; Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the PCR; If the previous proposal has the green light, that both the player and his coach are on the same floor of the hotel; Move as many players as possible to private houses with a court to train.

[From Yahoo Australia]

As you can imagine, Djoko is being blasted from Melbourne to Perth for his tone-deaf demands. This is a man who has made a slew of anti-vaccine and anti-science statements just in the past year, who hosted multiple superspreader events (and refused to take responsibility for it) and who has never met a pandemic restriction he didn’t break. Obviously, the Australian government is like “NO, STFU.” But the whole thing is becoming a huge situation and it’s honestly hurting the sport. Why are people so f–king tone deaf?

Portraits of May 2020

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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62 Responses to “Novak Djokovic blasted for making unreasonable pandemic demands in Australia”

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  1. hindulovegod says:

    I thought Djokovic resigned from the player council. Why is he making demands at all? And why on earth was special dispensation given to Sandgren of all people? He tested positive and was allowed on one of these flights anyway. Total disaster.

    • Kaiser says:

      Djokovic is still trying to do that players’ union, which isn’t really a union, and he thinks he’s the spokesperson for both tours (he is not)

      • MMC says:

        That union is actually a really good thing, and it’s good to see at least one of the Big 3 trying to help players who are not ranked high. can’t say the same for the other two.

      • hindulovegod says:

        Ah, right. I thought that had fizzled out but apparently not. The union seemed like a good idea until you looked closer at who joined and why. . .

    • Ange says:

      Sandgren was assessed by the same health officials who are involved in the corona situation at the moment and they said after further checks he was shedding, not contagious. It was an assessment made by qualified health professionals and backed by government.

  2. Ohhh says:

    There are 37,000 Australians stuck abroad. They cannot get home. Australia severely restricts the amount of people allowed back into the country and everyone must quarantine for two weeks. The fact that these tennis players, a non essential career, are allowed to bypass the 37k citizens and STILL act like this is disgusting.
    I’m so lucky to be in Australia. I am not Australian, so as a visa holder I know how hard it is to get through this pandemic with no additional government support. We should not be playing for these tennis players and their girlfriends to complain about their excellent treatment.

    • Millennial says:

      Absolutely. I know of a transatlantic boyfriend/girlfriend couple who have been separated this entire time because of Australia’s (understandably) strict rules. It seems like it’s been pretty hard on them. The fact that Australia is letting these folks in is really annoying and unfair.

    • Ange says:

      The tournament is funded by Tennis Australia and sponsorship deals.

  3. MegJ says:

    Some things are more important than sport, like lives! We’ve worked hard and sacrificed as a country to get to 0 covid cases and don’t need or appreciate selfish people trying to break rules and skip the procedures for their own self serving (no pun intended) reasons. Suck it up or leave.

  4. SarahCS says:

    I mean who expected him to be anything other than tone deaf and demanding?

    I am loving the use of the woman complaining about not having someone to WASH HER HAIR in the news footage. The perfect time for a ‘you know people are dying right?’ response.

    • Miranda says:

      Oh no! And don’t tell me they turned away her Groom of the Stool, too?

    • EveV says:

      Exactly what I was gonna say! Who the hell admits something like that to the world, much less while bitching about the (very privileged) conditions you find yourself in during a pandemic?!

    • E.D says:

      I purposely got rid of all my T.V’s about 4 years ago as I found I was watching news all day long and getting too upset.

      I am very careful about the articles that I read when online and rarely click on video links so I can avoid getting unnecessarily worked-up BUT I clicked on that link of the news footage because I am a Melburnian who loves tennis and hadn’t allowed myself to read any reports about the upcoming A.O as yet.

      When Bernard Tomic’s girlfriend started talking about not being able to get her hair washed (because she doesn’t do it herself) – my god, I have almost lost my mind!

      What a peanut.

      P.S – I love our Premier Daniel Andrew’s.
      We are very lucky in Australia with how seriously our politicians have taken covid.

      • Nana says:

        Love Daniel Andrews too. He did all those hard yards, keeping Victoria’s restrictions in place so they could go from 700 new cases per day down to zero community transistions per day.
        Plus he was under incredible pressure every day, from Murdoch and Channel 9 owned gutter newspapers and abominable tv/cable “news” channels.
        Of course the federal government likes to take credit for our low transmission rates, but they were one of the worse sources of pressure on the Victorian government; plus they’ve been begrudging (they only like welfare if it’s lining their rich mates’ pockets) and pretty much useless themselves.
        We’ve seen what happened on the Northern Beaches in Sydney from just one or two cases spreading the virus very quickly over December. We all know what has to be done now and most accept the restrictions. We know our strict precautions mean avoiding the devastation countless countries overseas are going through, and which I feel so much for you all on a daily basis.
        Once again I’m glad our governments are sticking to their guns for all the reasons Sarah and ED point out above.

  5. lisa says:

    is a girlfriend an essential job? letting them add friends and family to their entourage is an unfair burden on the organizers

  6. aussie says:

    as an aussie, i kinda feel like the victorian government. should not have agreed to allow the open to go ahead.
    obviously victorians have worked hard and made a a lot of sacrifices to get control on the corona virus. Players definitely should not get special treatment at the risk of harming the state .
    but i do think the government should have forgone the economic benefits of hosting the slam as its does seem dangerous to the players health to quarantine them play the tournament outside.

  7. OzJennifer says:

    We went through months of lockdown, got to zero cases, and now have to put up with this sort of entitled nonsense? STFU Djocovid.

    • Elle says:

      he’s in a city where we did 4 months of lockdown, with a curfew, allowed outside only an hour a day

      he’s a bloody idiot and an ingrate

      extremely poor behaviour

  8. BearcatLawyer says:

    No one forced Joker to go to Australia. His lack of awareness of his privilege is unbelievable.

  9. Diana says:

    I’m so disappointed with Novak. I was a big fan until recently. It’s always sad when someone you admire turns out to be unreasonable and narcissistic. It’s hard to ignore someone’s character.

    After the Adria Tour, I thought perhaps he had a wake up call. I guess not.

  10. Willow says:

    Australia abandons it’s own citizens abroad. Lets in entitled tennis players for a cash grab. Said tennis players throw covidiot tantrums. USA breathes a sigh of relief as Australia replaces them in the headlines.

    • Eulalia says:

      Sorry, how have we ‘’abandoned” our citizens?The government issued a warning back in March 2020 stating that Australian citizens abroad wanting to come home should do so immediately and hotel quarantine was at no cost to international arrivals for months. Yet 10 months on people are surprised that flights are unavailable/expensive, that they have to quarantine and that hotel quarantine is no longer free?

      As a Victorian who lived through the lockdown, I agree that the tournament shouldn’t be happening this year, even though I’m a tennis fan and I attend every single year, the risk is too high. It makes my blood boil seeing Novaxx and other tennis players complain like this, they have no idea.

  11. Beach Dreams says:

    After everything he pulled in 2020, he’s still choosing to act like this? He’s easily the most entitled of the Big 3.

    • MMC says:

      I would say exactly the opposite. While he did some dumb shit during the pandemic, he’s the only one out of the Big3 who cares about low ranked players. Didn’t Federer try to increase the prizes for high ranked guys just this year?

  12. MMC says:

    I mean, if the tournament has been approved, his demands don’t really sound that outrageous? And it’s not like he’s demanding it only for himself, but for all players?
    And he’s not complaining about being in a room for 2 weeks, but about not training and not eating the way he has to for those 2 weeks, which are crucial for a tournament of that level.
    Some of the things Đoković did are dumb, but people like to shit on him for everything.

    • Sof says:

      I understand that they are trying to come up with a special bubble so the players who were on those planes can practice but the thing is, what if they weren’t infected but catch the virus during a training session? Will they try to blame the organization for that?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Maybe they shouldn’t have traveled in the middle of an actual pandemic if they were so concerned about keeping everything the same for themselves. I feel sympathy for their desire to maintain their training, BUT saving lives is more important than a tournament, and I’m thankful the government in Australia (as opposed to mine in the US) realizes that.

  13. Godwina says:

    1) ND is SUCH a tool

    2) That news clip is banging

    3) “Whilst the event is important, nothing is more than public health”. Truer words.

  14. Cee says:

    The AUS Open shouldn’t happen! They’re going to eff up all of their sacrifice and hard work in containing the virus! WTF Australian Government!

  15. Sof says:

    So all that money his foundation donated to buy equipment for Serbian hospitals was all for publicity, he still doesn’t take the pandemic seriously.

    I liked how some players were complaining about the food and then there was another one, whose name I can’t remember, that posted a picture of a McDonalds takeaway, as if telling the others to either buy their own food or stop whining.
    Marcelo Melo posted on instagram the food they are getting and it didn’t look bad, I guess players are used to other stuff.

  16. Chaine says:

    Why are male tennis players almost always such execrable people?!

  17. Scal says:

    Most of it is spoiled people being spoiled (and claiming they didn’t realize quarantine meant being in your room lol) but I do think there should be a training gap between completing quarantine and tournament play. Going straight from 2 weeks in a hotel to playing is nuts.

    • Mia says:

      There is a training bubble. The players that have come in on the chartered flights who did not have anybody test positive are able to travel from their hotels to the tennis centre to train for five hours a day. They are not allowed to go anywhere else for two weeks. Unfortunately for some they were on compromised flights. Every tennis player was told what the restrictions would be before they came, and were then shocked that the Victorian government enforced these restrictions. My understanding is that the majority of the tennis players have no problems with this. Victorians have not gone through the strictest lockdown in the world to have the virus get out again. As a few other people have mentioned, as much as I love the tennis I don’t think it should be going ahead.

  18. Midge says:

    UGHHHHHH the lip filler chick who can’t wash her own hair. This is hurting the sport because it’s exposing how completely out of touch, spoiled and awful so many professional athletes are. You are bouncing a ball around a rectangular space, not coding patents in an ambulance or risking your life while giving chest compressions in an ICU. I can’t with the whiney assholes.

  19. Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

    I stopped reading after Novaxx Djocovid. I am done for the day. I need to lie down.

  20. Daphne says:

    He has always lacked sportsmanship and decorum. Never a gracious loser. Add hypocrite to the list. I look forward to the day when he retires and I can enjoy adults playing on the court. By the way, have any of you tennis fans read Agassi’s Open? I reread it every couple of years and it is my top memoir. The ghost writer’s memoir, the Tender Bar, is also excellent.

    • Bella says:

      I haven’t Agassi’s memoir, but the Tender Bar is one of my favorite’s book and it is by J.R. Moehringer.

      • Daphne says:

        Agassi was preliterate and I believe the Tender Bar was one of the first books he read. It inspired him to write his own memoir and they wrote it together.

  21. Grace says:

    I was a big fan of his until COVID hit and we saw his true colors. Entitled jerk. I’m so glad the Australian government is standing strong. I hope they continue to hold the line.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Slow clap from an American to that MP.

    • Horatio Velveteen says:

      That MP is our Victorian state Premier – who stood up for a daily press conference each day during our 111 days in strict lockdown. He gets the sacrifices Melbournians have made – and copped a lot of flack from our liberal (right wing) federal government for our lockdown- but it worked! The entitlement of these players is disgusting.

  23. TheOriginalMia says:

    All he had to do was quarantine and play in the AO. He’s setting up his excuses should he lose in the early rounds. I didn’t get to eat my special food, sleep on my special mattress, practice enough…the list goes on. As the architect of the 2020 Covid tour, he should gain some self-awareness and stfu.

    • .whatever says:

      That is actually incorrect. He’s in Adelaide where he and a few other top players (Rafa, Serena, Venus, Osaka etc..) have better privileges such as no hard hotel quarantine. The Adelaide players also get better food, better hotel suites, access to their own private gyms, more time to practice, more team members allowed at their practice sessions, more people allowed to travel to Australia with them etc…

      The bigger, more scandalous story here is the players in Adelaide having an unfair advantage over the players in Melbourne even before for the hard hotel quarantine in Melbourne was announced.

      • TheOriginalMia says:

        How is it incorrect? He’s still complaining about quarantine. He’s still trying to modify
        quarantine to do what he, an elite athlete, wants to do to. Whether he’s complaining about food and stuff for others, he’s still complaining about a situation that is necessary for the continued health and safety of a country. It’s not about him and his fellow players. He could have opted out if the restrictions were too much for him. He decided to come and make demands for himself and others.

  24. Hazel says:

    That woman is ridiculous. I don’t EVER wash my own hair. Excuse me?

  25. MaryBeary says:

    Most people don’t know about the International Swim League (ISL) a new pro organization for swimmers which began last year. Most of the worlds top pro swimmers were in a 6 week bubble in Budapest earlier this year to compete. Very little complaining and most were grateful to have the opportunity to compete and see each other. Strict protocols with initial testing and quarantine for all. Similar to the NBA. It can be done so grow up Novak!

  26. Parklife says:

    I am a huge tennis fan but this event should not be going ahead. Melbourne spent 7 months in lockdown last year. That’s right, 7 whole months. 112 of those days were consecutive where we could not travel more than 5km from our homes, were able to exercise for one hour a day only and had a nightly curfew. Masks were mandatory both indoors and outdoors (even if you were out on a walk). Masks are still mandatory here in most indoor settings.

    Players had a choice whether to come here or not. During a pandemic no less. Those that have chosen to come need to stop complaining, be thankful and respect the rules. Along with the huge sacrifice the community here has made to get the virus back under control.

  27. Horatio Velveteen says:

    A doubles player from NZ – Artem Sitak – said players were warned about the possibility of having to go into hard lockdown before the Australian Open in a conference call. He also said most players didn’t bother dialing in for the call – and are now claiming they were never told.

    I love the AO – but the entitlement and disrespect shown by some players right now has really left a bad taste in my mouth.

  28. Le4Frimaire says:

    Djocovic is a really unlikable person. Wasn’t he the one disqualified from US open for hitting an official with a ball? Maybe they should have canceled the tournament but everyone wants to get paid. Considering the amount of COVID infections they brought into the country, they knew the requirements and they could have opted out if they didn’t want to deal with the quarantine. I don’t understand why the other players want him, Mr. Super Spreader, speaking for them. Surely the head officials with the tournament should be addressing their quarantine issues, not this guy.

  29. Le4Frimaire says:

    Djocovic is a really unlikable person. Wasn’t he the one disqualified from US open for hitting an official with a ball? Maybe they should have canceled the tournament but everyone wants to get paid. Considering the amount of COVID infections they brought into the country, they knew the requirements and they could have opted out if they didn’t want to deal with the quarantine. I don’t understand why the other players want him, Mr. Super Spreader, speaking for them. Surely the head officials with the tournament should be addressing their quarantine issues, not this guy.

  30. NYCDents says:

    This article is wholly misleading: 1) Novak was making these demands on behalf of the PTPA, the newly formed tennis players union, not on behalf of himself. This article makes it seem like Novak was asking on behalf of himself (or maybe that’s how I initially read it). 2) If you look on any of the players’ insta-stories, you’ve seen they have all been complaining about either the lack of court time or the terrible food. They’re athletes, so having an adequate nutrition is vital to their performance. Pablo Carreño Busta posted a really sad photo of like a handful of dry ground meat and a sad half a bowl of salad and that was his assigned lunch for the day. No athlete can function on that lack of nutrition. I think like 5 players have gotten court time, let alone been able to leave their rooms. And to Novak’s request to have private housing, at USO, the players got to have private housing (Andy Murray and Novak did this) if they quarantined away from everyone else. And that worked perfectly fine for those players who chose that option (which was paid for by the players, not by USO). 3) To those who are struggling in Australia, I completely understand, it must be hard seeing these athletes complain about these conditions while you can’t see your friends and family. However, taking your anger out on Novak or any of the players is unnecessary. Tennis Australia is putting the tournament on and the Australian government allowed this, so your anger is better suited for them. Vasek Pospisil insta-storied Craig Tiley’s email and phone number so you can take it up with him directly :)

    • Kricket says:

      They all knew the rules and all agreed to come to Melbourne, they were even warned about the chances of strict lockdowns, which they said yes to, again. To hear ANY of them drafting letters now asking for special privileges or changes to already agreed upon terms is absolutely disgusting. So sorry that a mere hotel isn’t up to the job of preparing food that elite athletes require and approve of. If only they all knew that they would be in hotel quarantine and not at a ritzy resort.

      Oh that’s right, THEY DID. And people in Australia aren’t frustrated because we can’t go out and visit our friends and families. Most have been making sacrifices so that they don’t catch a disease that can indiscriminately kill either you or your loved ones, trying to buy food or toilet paper on bare shelves, worried how they would pay rent or a mortgage when no longer having any income and a whole host of other things.

      Your comments show about as much tone deafness as the tennis players themselves. Should never have been green lighted to be held but it all came down to money. However if you agree to terms and conditions you should honour them or don’t bloody come in the first place. The whole lot should pack up and go home. Athletes aren’t treated differently here and it’s proving to be a bitter pill for some of them to handle. They were all told the rules ahead of time and agreed, deal with it or piss off.

    • Yeahyeahyeah says:

      @NYCDENT as an Australian let me explain the rules to you here..

      If you’ve been in close contact, like for example a 12 hour flight, with a confirmed case of covid, you must isolate for 14 days and have a confirmed negative result before you can come out of isolation. It’s the law as part of the Public Health Act. You will be fined if you break this isolation and these are the rules for everyone. It would be irresponsible to leave your isolation knowing you may be infectious and give it to someone else! It’s been like this in Australia for nearly a year so any of these players would have known this. There is no moving round to a private house once you’re deemed a close contact. Then you’re risking exposing hotel staff, drivers, staff, and frankly do you trust them to just stay in a house? They’re not exactly taking the situation seriously…

      • Bros says:

        I mean, he is a deplorable but I get the request to lessen the days in quarantine. Even the CDC has revised their guidance to 10 days with no symptoms or 7 with a negative test within 48 hrs of being in contact with others. PCR and rapid antigen tests could be given in tandem to provide a pretty certain picture that one is not sick/contagious. 14 days was always this arbitrary number and we know a lot more about how the virus progresses now. 10 would be fine with 2 tests. I cant stand ND but he is kind of right about that one thing. Lip filler mcdirty hair can f all the way off.

  31. Feebee says:

    Novak’s “union” doesn’t speak for all players, it speaks for the guys who have joined it. The most tone-deaf thing about Novak is him doing this and being unaware of how this would sound coming from him, even if he’s trying to help everyone. Some of the criticism he gets is unfair, there has always been a bit of a bias against him but most of it, on this subject is totally fair!

    The top players have no problem accepting the perks, asking for many others to receive perks is undoable, unless he wants to give up some of his, which is a no.

    All of the players knew the score, even of rule changes if infection was found on their plane. There are outbound flights for those who can’t cope. Victorians in particular have sacrificed and worked hard so they could get back to normal thus allowing this event to go ahead. Players should be getting that message, some may even “get” it. The food could be better but hey… sacrifices.

  32. Kricket says:

    Each player, coach etc were told what the rules were before they came. Every single one of them agreed. Once here, we want this, oh we don’t have to follow those rules blah blah blah.
    I am in Melbourne and yes, we have endured a tremendous amount to get to the zero covid numbers we have now.

    Daniel Andrews has been abused, threatened and even sued because he put people’s health first. As heartbreaking as it is to see businesses suffer and people’s lively hoods affected you can’t run a business if your dead due to Covid either.

    Then we have demanding and arrogant tennis players coming here and bitching about how hard done by THEY are. It should never have been allowed in the first place. The public didn’t get a say in it. Pack them all up and send them home. Spend the money that these idiots could have won on disinfecting all their hotel rooms and donate the rest to charity.
    The Melbourne public by an large don’t want you here, GO THE HELL HOME.