Rafael Nadal says the visa row that has threatened Novak Djokovic’s participation in the Australian Open is a result of his rival’s choices.
Djokovic was refused entry into Australia on Wednesday after failing to satisfy officials that he had sufficient grounds for the medical exemption against Covid-19 vaccination that he was granted by tournament chiefs. His appeal will be heard on Monday.
“I think if he wanted he would be playing here in Australia without a problem,” said Nadal.
“He made his own decisions – and everyone is free to take their own decisions – but then there are some consequences.
“Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.”
Djokovic, a 20-time Grand Slam winner, was told that he did not have the right paperwork and ordered to leave Australia when he attempted to enter the country on Wednesday night.
Tournament organisers have granted the Serb permission to play the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on 17 January, without adhering to its strict Covid-19 vaccination policy after he successfully applied for a medical exemption.
But immigration officials were not satisfied that Djokovic had met the higher bar required for medical exemption against being vaccinated before entering Australia.
His lawyers indicated their intention to appeal and a hearing has been adjourned until Monday. Australian Open organisers have indicated they need to know by Tuesday whether nine-time champion Djokovic can take part in the tournament.
Djokovic has refused to discuss his vaccination status but has previously questioned the jabs. The justification for his medical exemption for the tournament has not been made public, but one scenario allowed for is if a player has had Covid-19 in the last six months.
“I feel everyone has to do whatever feels good for him. But there are rules and if you don’t want to get the vaccine then you can have some troubles,” said Nadal.
“After a lot of people have been dying for two years my feeling is the vaccine is the only way to stop this pandemic. That’s what people who understand about this say and I am no one to create a different opinion.”