Novak Djokovic's doctor has hit out at the decision by the Australian government to deny his 'healthy' patient a visa
A doctor who worked closely with Novak Djokovic during his rise to the top of the tennis world rankings says it is "absurd" that the unvaccinated Serbian is being treated as a threat to public health in Australia.
Dr Igor Cetojevic, a Bosnian-born Serb who was part of Djokovic's touring party ahead of his first Wimbledon win and rise to the summit of the men's rankings a decade ago, has ridiculed the decision by Australian immigration authorities to revoke the Australian Open top seed's visa ahead of what is expecting to a be a final reckoning of a saga this weekend which has gripped the sports world.
The world number one has twice had his immigration status withdrawn, the latest of which came from the highest level of the Australian government on Friday, leaving Djokovic relying on a final appeal to determine whether he is legally eligible to seek a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.
According to Cetojevic, the entire episode is little more than theater. "It's absurd that somebody who has optimal health is a threat to the health of the public," he said, via AFP. "How can a super healthy guy be a threat for the Australian Open?"
The decision by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to unilaterally block Djokovic's stay in Australia was deemed by authorities to be in the public interest - but it was also made in the shadow of an exponential rise in Covid-19 cases linked to the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, and Cetojevic alleges that Djokovic is being targeted for his personal beliefs.
"It's all politics - it starts with politics, not anything else," he said.
Some of Cetojevic's methods, such as his Chinese and holistic approaches to healthcare, have been dismissed by his peers, and he also finds himself in something of a medical minority when it comes to vaccines - an issue which is at the root of Djokovic's Australian drama.
"Definitely," he said when asked if he suspected that Djokovic's performance on the court would be hindered by the vaccine.
"Let's call things by their right name. These so-called vaccines are, in fact, experimental products that have not been clinically proven. I'm seeing patients these days, ordinary people who followed the recommendation to be injected, who are now facing major health issues.
"The whole idea is to provoke the body's immune system but we are all different. Some people have different reactions.
"If you have the best car for Formula One and you put the wrong petrol inside, what will happen?"
The general consensus of the medical community is that the vaccines are an effective preventative weapon against Covid-19, with the World Health Organization stating that they have been been strongly tested.
WHO general director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also warned this week that the "overwhelming majority" of people being admitted to hospital for Covid-19 are unvaccinated.
Cetojevic, though, endorses Djokovic's stance.
"He respects himself, he is aware and a smart person and he learns from his mistakes and he also from good choices. Luckily, meeting me 10 years ago, his life changed," he said, refusing to clarify if he had been in contact with the star throughout his Australian troubles.
"I'm always in touch with good friends... it depends on the time and needs," he added.