Covid-19 Regulations and PR Crises
Recently, the famous tennis player Novak Djokovic came under criticism from the public for allegedly knowing that he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus while attending public events nonetheless. According to statements, the tennis player had allegedly known that he had covid when he attended a photo shoot and a newspaper interview at a tennis center in Serbia in December. According to Djokovic himself, he’s stated that he’d made a mistake and should have been isolated at the time. He has also been publicly against mandatory vaccinations and has had Covid-19 twice thus far.
Later on, he released another statement clarifying his activities while he had tested positive. The statement also addressed errors in the travel documents Djokovic used to enter Australia. Upon entry to Australia at the beginning of the year, Djokovic got his visa revoked because the Australian immigration officials rejected his medical exemption from a vaccination requirement that was instituted during the pandemic. When the officials canceled his visa the situation ended up spiraling out of control in terms of politics, legalities, and bureaucratics.
The tennis player ended up having to spend four days in an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne, alongside refugees and asylum seekers, before Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly decided to uphold Djokovic’s appeal, released him, and reinstated the visa. The reason Novak Djokovic went to the country in the first palace was so that he could attend the first tennis major this year, the Australian Open, where he’s the nine-time defending champion of the tournament.
Despite the judge releasing him from the immigration detention hotel, Djokovic is still facing the prospect of deportation because he’s not vaccinated against Covid-19. Whether or not to deport Djokovic is entirely up to the Australian minister of immigration, who’s yet to make a decision. When Djokovic arrived in Melbourne, the city was facing a record daily number of new cases, which rose to a million daily and have been steadily increasing because of the Omicron variant.
Once he was released from detention, Djokovic shared a picture of himself on Twitter practicing tennis at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, and also shared a statement of gratitude to the judge who overturned his visa cancellation. A number of supporters and protesters spent several days outside of the immigration detention hotel, chanting “Free Novak” in opposition to his detention. The entire controversial situation has also been very closely monitored by many all over the world and ended up creating diplomatic tensions between Canberra and Belgrade, as well as speaking debates about national vaccination regulations and detention centers.
In situations such as this one, companies and their leaders should avoid making public statements unless there’s any misinformation circulating that should be clarified. It’s best to follow guidelines and regulations, as well as to clear up any misconduct with officials, and after that to make a statement to the public regarding such situations, which can otherwise result in a PR crisis.