Novak Djokovic sponsors taking a ‘risk’ with £22m wealth at stake in Australia

Novak Djokovic: Vine clashes with caller defending tennis star

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Novak Djokovic risks losing millions of pounds in sponsorship deals if he’s found to have acted illegally in his attempts to enter Australia. On Friday, Djokovic, 34, had his visa revoked for the second time since arriving at Melbourne Airport last week, but will remain in the country until Sunday at least when his second court appeal takes place.

The Serbian has already successfully appealed one order to have him deported but Australia’s immigration minister, Adam Hawke, overturned the decision on Friday when fresh allegations against the world No 1 came to light.

Despite not being vaccinated against Covid, Djokovic was initially allowed to enter the first Grand Slam tournament of 2022 by virtue of a medical exemption, granted on the basis he had tested positive for the virus on December 16.

However, this week he was forced to admit flaunting isolation rules in the days that followed his PCR result, when pictures of him at events – unmasked and shaking hands with people – went viral.

His plight was then further exacerbated by claims there was false information on his immigration form, incorrectly stating he had not travelled abroad in the 14 days before flying to Australia, despite having been seen training in Spain in late December.

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He attributed the error on his agent making an innocent mistake, but could reportedly potentially face a jail sentence if authorities believe he deliberately attempted to mislead officials.

Djokovic is hell-bent on landing an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title down under, which would take him clear of fellow joint-record holders Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, but if he’s forbidden from playing in the Australian Open it is not just records he’s likely to miss out on.

The star is said to be worth around £161 million, and alongside his own business ventures, enjoys lucrative sponsorship deals with companies like Lacoste, Asics, Peugeot, and Swiss watch brand Hublot – worth a reported £22m.

However, Tim Crow, a UK sports marketing consultant, has warned that Djokovic has potentially created a loophole for his backers to cancel contracts if he’s deemed to have behaved inappropriately.

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He told AP News that sponsors have to determine whether an athlete acted illegally or immorally if they want to try to use a bad behavior exit clause in a contract, although added in Djokovic’s case the notion was “pretty nuanced.”

Ceyda Mumcu however, professor of sports management at the University of New Haven, believes if Djokovic does play in – and subsequently win – the tournament at Melbourne Park then there his little chance of him losing any endorsements.

“He will be labeled as the most successful male player of all time, and I think that provides a reason for sponsors to be more willing to take that risk and remain with the athlete,” she said.

His main sponsors have thus far been quiet on the explosive saga, although Hublot have released a statement pledging to continue their sponsorship: “Novak Djokovic is his own person,” they said.

“We cannot comment on any of his personal decisions. Hublot will continue its partnership with the world number 1 tennis player.”

Sponsors cutting ties with high-profile sports stars following misdemeanours has become increasingly common.

The most notorious example relates to Lance Armstrong, who lamented a “75 million dollar day,” of losses after all his lead sponsors dropped him over revelations of doping.

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