Sky News presenter Jacquie Beltrao backtracks after criticism over Novak Djokovic tweet

Sky News presenter Jacquie Beltrao backtracks after criticism over Novak Djokovic tweet

January 8, 2022

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Sky News sports presenter Jacquie Beltrao, 56, has clarified her tweets about Novak Djokovic’s visa issue after she slammed social media “haters” for throwing “insults” at the tennis player.

Djokovic, 34, is due to compete in this month’s Australia Open but was seized by Melbourne Airport security earlier this week.

He was told he didn’t meet the country’s entry requirements due to his vaccine status.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) subsequently cancelled his visa and he was sent to an immigration detention hotel.

Jacquie sparked controversy when she hit out at the sportsman’s critics saying Djokovic travelled to Australia in “good faith”.

The presenter told her 87,000 followers yesterday: “While I don’t agree with [Djokovic’s] vaccination stance (his choice of course) I don’t know why Australia is detaining him in an asylum hotel. 

Following her comments, Jacquie was accused of being “arrogant” and “elitist”.

User Marian Smedley penned: “What an extraordinarily arrogant and elitist statement. Far better to argue that the refugees held in the ‘dirty hotel’ should be housed somewhere decent or even better – set free.”

Robyn raged: “He’s not being treated like everyone else. His appeal is being held within days, asylum seekers wait years if their appeal is heard at all. I also suggest you look into the conditions, food etc the asylum seekers experience (they can’t even open a window). Shine a light on that.”

Jacquie has now backtracked her statement and clarified that she did not believe his reputation as a tennis player made him “a better person” nor that she was comparing his situation to that of an asylum seeker.

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She wrote: “I phrased my tweet very badly.

“I’m not saying Novak is a better person because he’s good at sport but that his situation can’t be compared to that of an asylum seeker.  

“Perhaps NO exemptions should have been given at all for the Australian Open.

“[Tennis Australia] should take more responsibility.”

Court documents released on Saturday claim Djokovic had Covid last month which gave him “medical exemption from Covid vaccine” and should have been able to enter the country.

His lawyers have told the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia that as a result, he should be allowed to leave immigration detention and play in the tournament.

A judge will decide Djokovic’s fate on Monday, as he eagerly awaits whether he can defend his title or face deportation.

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