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What Djokovic deportation says about Australia’s border-control policies

5 min read

Melbourne, Australia

Weary after two years of some of the harshest COVID-19 border restrictions in the world, many Australians wanted tennis star Novak Djokovic kicked out of their country for traveling to a tennis tournament without being vaccinated.

But the backdrop to the government’s tough line on the defending Australian Open champion — and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s description of the expulsion as a “decision to keep our borders strong” — dates to nearly a decade ago. It also shines a light on Australia’s complicated, and sometimes criticized, immigration and border policies.

Back in 2013, the border issue wasn’t unvaccinated foreigners like Mr. Djokovic but thousands of asylum seekers from Asia, the Middle East and Africa who flocked to Australia on rickety fishing boats from Indonesian ports.