The year is only a few weeks old, but already we’ve seen what could be 2022’s strangest sport story.
And so, let’s dive into it…
Novak’s Vaccine Quandary
With the Australian Open gearing up to kick off and looking to defend his title, world number one Novak Djokovic flew with a 'vaccine exemption' and arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday 5th January.
Upon landing, he was immediately denied entry into the country.
The Serb's visa was cancelled due to it not being one that allows for medical exemptions, after which he was moved to hotel quarantine as his team launched an appeal.
On Monday 10th January - after 5 days in quarantine - officials from the Federal Circuit Court of Australia quashed the visa cancellation and ordered the Australian Government to release Djokovic from detention and pay his legal costs immediately.
Djokovic was set to play.
He was pictured practicing on a court, but just four days later Immigration Minister Alex Hawke reimposed the penalty and ordered - once more - Djokovic’s deportation. The Serb’s team appealed the decision again but lost his review and has now - officially - been deported to Dubai.
It’s been one of the more bizarre sagas in world sport, and one that I’m confident we haven’t heard the last of yet.
Djokovic himself has taken a reputation hit and has lost the opportunity to both defend his title and earn prize money that he should have a right to.
The Australian Open, meanwhile, has lost its headline talent from a tournament crying out for a superstar to join Rafa Nadal, as Roger Federer takes time out of the game and Andy Murray is arguably not competing at the top level anymore, as a result of his well-documented injuries.
As we all return to a new, post-COVID reality, travel restrictions and vaccine limitations will be a developing issue in 2022 as athletes learn to deal with different entry requirements around the world.
Making Sense of the Metaverse
This last week finally saw sport take its first, tentative steps into the ‘metaverse’.
Manchester City, leading the Premier League and on course for another league title, posted a job opening on LinkedIn, looking for someone to take on the somewhat interesting title - ‘Strategy & Ventures - The Metaverse’.
What that person will be doing exactly remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Manchester City continue to innovate and it’s another sign that Web 3.0 is about to ambush the world of sport. NFTs are flooding football clubs and crypto partners are increasingly ubiquitous.
Miller is constantly monitoring the risk implications of technological developments and the potential impact on our sports clients’ businesses. This is a complex area that we are all going to see more of in 2022.