Fact-check: Novak Djokovic Australian Open tennis, vaccine claims

The Australian Open kicked off on January 17 and there have been allegations online, including about Djokovic’s departure from Australia. The VERIFY team has researched what is true and false.

The Australian Open is the first of four tennis Grand Slam tournaments held each year, prior to the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. This year’s Australian Open will run from January 17-30.

Prior to the tournament’s first service, there was controversy surrounding the Australian Open over unvaccinated Serbian tennis star and chief executive Novak Djokovic’s visa fight to enter Australia so he could participate in the event.

Australia has very strict COVID-19 related travel rules for foreigners to get a visa and enter the country.

Djokovic’s visa problems started in mid-November 2021 and lasted for two months. Amid the Djokovic saga, several videos and claims were circulated online about the Australian Open. VERIFY examined what is true and false.

QUESTION 1

Has Novak Djokovic been deported from Australia for not being vaccinated?

There has been some confusion as to why Djokovic was deported, see an example here.

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

Yes, it is true that Djokovic’s visa was denied and he was deported from Australia for not being vaccinated against COVID-19.

WHAT WE FOUND

Novak Djokovic, who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, was deported from Australia after a lengthy legal battle over his visa and immigration rules for vaccination against COVID-19.

Australia requires foreign visitors to be vaccinated or apply for an individual waiver and be approved. Waivers may be granted for people who are unable to receive the vaccine for medical reasons or on a case-by-case basis. If the traveler has not been vaccinated, different states in Australia have different rules. In Victoria, where Melbourne and the Australian Open take place, international arrivals who have not been vaccinated or cannot prove that they have been vaccinated must apply for a waiver and, if granted, be quarantined in a hotel for 14 days.

In November, Djokovic was granted a temporary visa to enter Australia for the January tournament. After getting the temporary visa, he traveled to Serbia where he tested positive for COVID-19.

Djokovic said he was given a medical exemption by order of Tennis Australia, the country’s tennis board, as he made a full recovery from the virus. Djokovic claimed he met the requirements for quarantine-free entry into Australia, according to the waiver.

But the Australian government said Djokovic did not meet Australian requirements for the exemption.

On January 16, Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, withdrew Novak Djokovic’s visa. Explaining his decision, Hawke wrote in court documents: “In light of Mr Djokovic’s stance on vaccination and his acknowledgment that precautions were not followed after receiving a positive COVID-19 test result, I am believes canceling his visa would be consistent with the Australian Government’s firm stance on the benefits of vaccination and appropriate action aimed at managing the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A panel of federal judges upheld Hawke’s decision. According to the ruling, Hawke’s decision to revoke Djokovic’s visa was not “irrational” or “illogical”.

The panel’s injunction said Djokovic’s stance on vaccines could fuel anti-vaccine sentiment or spark protests, and there was evidence that he could pose a health risk if not vaccinated.

QUESTION 2

Have Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer been recorded mocking Novak Djokovic for thinking he could enter Australia without getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Videos posted on Twitter the pair of laughing tennis stars has racked up over a million views. One video has English subtitles claiming the pair mocked Djokovic for his COVID-19 antics, such as using a “false medical exemption.”

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is wrong.

No, this video is from 2010 and the interview was filmed for a Roger Federer Foundation event in Switzerland. The English subtitles were made up.

WHAT WE FOUND

VERIFY traced the original interview video to 2010, when Federer and Nadal sat down at the table ahead of “Match for Africa,” a charity tennis match. That video was posted on the YouTube channel of Credit Suisse, a financial firm based in Switzerland. Roger Federer is a brand ambassador for the company.

The clip of the interview in which tennis stars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal laugh at Djokovic comes from the German satirical website Watson.ch.

The headline of the article reads: “Djokovic is stuck – Federer and Nadal’s reaction is delightful” with a laughing emoji (translated via Google Translate). The article is listed in the “Fake News” category, with a disclaimer that the article is “satire – “(almost) not a word is true!”

The captions to the recent video posted to Twitter claim the pair mocked Djokovic, saying things like, “He thought he could enter Australia without being vaxed.” In the original video, Nadal and Federer talked about what they got each other for Christmas.

QUESTION 3

Did Slovenian tennis star Dalila Jakupovic collapse during the 2022 Australian Open?

A video has been circulating showing Jakupovic collapsing, with claims that it happened at the 2022 Australian Open because Jakupovic was vaccinated against COVID-19. Videos of the collapse have been viewed more than 88,000 times on Twitter since posting. The video has been shared multiple times on Facebook (see here, here and here).

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is wrong.

No, Jakupovic did not collapse during the 2022 Australian Open. The video is from the 2020 Australian Open. Jakupovic collapsed after breathing difficulties due to air quality.

WHAT WE FOUND

Dalila Jakupovic did not collapse in the 2022 Australian Open. She is not even competing in this year’s tournament. The video was shot during the 2020 season, before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Australia and before the COVID-19 vaccine was created.

Using Twitter Advanced Search for “Dalila Jakupovic” and the Australian Open, VERIFY was able to find various news stories and videos of the 2020 Australian Open, where Jakupovic collapsed on January 13, 2020.

According to reports, Jakupovic collapsed and was forced to withdraw from the 2020 Open because she had breathing difficulties due to air quality in Melbourne. Air quality at the time was poor due to the raging bushfires going on across Australia.

HEAD tennis, which was a Jakupovic sponsor during the 2020 Open, also posted a video of the player on Twitter days after the collapse. In the video, she said she felt much better.

The Facebook posts claiming that Jakupovic collapsed due to heart problems, linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, each have a Facebook disclaimer that the post contains missing context or false information.

QUESTION #4

Have three players dropped out of the Australian Open due to COVID-19 vaccine-related breast problems?

An article from Free West Media has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, making the claim. The article states that Nikoloz Basilashvili, Dalila Jakupovic and Nick Kyrgios have all been dropped from the tournament due to problems with the COVID-19 vaccine.

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is wrong.

This is wrong. Nikolozi took part in the first round of the Open and Nick Kyrgios advanced to the second round. Dalila Jakupovic did not participate in the 2022 tournament.

WHAT WE FOUND

The article published Jan. 10 from Free West Media, a fringe website that posts conspiratorial or non-credible information, claimed that “several fully vaccinated tennis players competing in the Australian Open qualifying rounds have complained of fatigue and respiratory problems.” The article then goes on to claim that Nikoloz Basilashvili, Dalila Jakupovic and Nick Kyrgios have all dropped out of the tournament.

Basilashvili did not drop out of the tournament, but was defeated in the first round of the tournament. In five sets, Andy Murray won 3-2 to defeat Basilashvili on January 17.

Kyrgios participates in both the men’s singles and men’s doubles tournament. In the men’s singles he lost 3-1 to Daniil Medvedev on January 19. He will play in round 2 in the men’s doubles on January 21.

Jakupovic did not participate in the 2022 Open.

QUESTION #5

Is there any evidence that a ball girl collapsed during the 2022 Australian Open due to the COVID-19 vaccine?

Multiple tweets, a video circulating from the video-sharing platform Rumble and an article from an online website all claim the collapse is suspicious and could be another “vaccine damage.”

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is wrong.

There is no evidence that the girl in the video collapsed in court because of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Australian Open broadcaster, she collapsed from the heat.

WHAT WE FOUND

The ball girl collapsed on the field on January 17 during the match between Spaniard Federico Delbonis and Argentinian Pedro Martinez.

Both players came to the girl’s aid. Wide World of Sports, the official broadcaster of the Australian Open, tweeted that the girl collapsed from the heat.

According to WeatherZone, an Australian weather app, January is Melbourne’s hottest month, with temperatures during the first week of the Open averaging 28.1 degrees Celsius or 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit. According to AccuWeather, the temperature reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit on January 17, the day the girl collapsed.

Tennis Australia told Australia 7News that the girl’s condition improved after she sat in the ball lounge. The girl was checked by medical staff and a nurse before being collected by the parents, the report said.

VERIFY contacted Tennis Australia but did not hear back at the time of publication.

More from VERIFY: No, athletes do not need to be vaccinated to participate in the Beijing 2022 Olympics

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