'Selfish' Djokovic's exemption tough for players to accept, says Joao Sousa

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
  • Joao Sousa
    Joao Sousa
    Portuguese tennis player

Novak Djokovic has been labelled "selfish" by Joao Sousa for arriving at the Australian Open unvaccinated, but uncertainty still surrounds the Serbian's participation in the event.

World number one Djokovic was last week given a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block it upon his arrival.

The 20-time grand slam winner was detained for four days while waiting to appeal the case on Monday, which went in his favour at Melbourne Circuit Court.

Djokovic has since started training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, though immigration minister Alex Hawke may yet cancel his visa for a second time.

Should the 34-year-old be given the green light to compete at Melbourne Park, however, world number 140 Sousa says it will not sit right with others taking part.

"I respect that he fights for what he believes and I can be empathetic with what he is going through in Australia," Sousa is quoted as saying by Portuguese outlet Bola Amarela.

"But it's a bit selfish from him to arrive here as the only player unvaccinated. It's tough for us players to accept that."

Men's grand slam winners - Djokovic, Federer, Nadal
Men's grand slam winners - Djokovic, Federer, Nadal

Djokovic has been widely criticised for appearing on social media to mingle with the public in a series of appearances after returning a positive COVID-19 test on December 16.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Djokovic accepted he had made "an error of judgement" going ahead with an interview with French publication L'Equipe around that time.

Franck Ramella, the French journalist who conducted the 33-minute interview while Djokovic was COVID-19 positive, confirmed the tennis star wore a mask the whole time.

A decision on whether Djokovic can defend the title he has won a record nine times could be made on Thursday, when the draw for the main tournament is scheduled to take place.

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