CBS correspondent Vladimir Duthiers praised Australia following Novak Djokovic’s apparent failed attempt to defend his Australian Open title after declining to provide his COVID-19 vaccination status, a saga which has gripped the sports world.
Djokovic’s quest for back-to-back championships was questionable for months after the No. 1 player in the world declined to provide his vaccine status to the tournament. But a beaming Djokovic announced to his fans on Tuesday that he had been given a medical exemption from the vaccine requirement, and he would be heading down under after all.
It turned out to be a short-lived celebration. Just a day after Djokovic’s smiling Instagram post, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison released a statement saying they had encountered a problem with the athlete’s visa; it had been “canceled” and he would be sent home. Australian Border Forces released its own statement that Djokovic did not provide the “appropriate evidence” to meet the government’s entry requirements.
Djokovic’s fans were furious. But others, like CBS’s Vladimir Duthiers, suggested Australian officials had done the right thing, and patted them on the back for such stringent measures.
“Australia has done very, very well in vaccines and in keeping people safe, so that’s why they’re doing it,” Duthiers said on “CBS Mornings,” saying the federal government must have seen something that tennis Australia did not.
Duthiers’s colleague Gayle King, who noted Djokovic has never wanted to reveal either his vaccine status or the reasoning behind his medical exemption, said she was “surprised” Djokovic would “even want to play” at the tournament at all knowing “there’s this big controversy.”
Australia has had some of the strictest lockdowns in the world throughout the pandemic. The country’s “COVID zero” policy in part prevented international arrivals, closed state borders, and enforced city and state-wide lockdowns, sometimes even after just one reported COVID-19 case.
Morrison eventually announced an end to the policy in August after saying it was not “sustainable.”
Djokovic’s situation has torn the tennis world. Tennys Sandgren, an American tennis player who is unvaccinated, defended him.
“Just to be crystal clear here, 2 separate medical boards approved his exemption And politicians are stopping it Australia doesn’t deserve to host a grand slam,” Sandgren tweeted.
World No. 6 and fellow Grand Slam title winner Rafael Nadal, however, said rules are rules.
“If you are vaccinated you can play,” Nadal told press Thursday.
Fox News’s Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.