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Novak Djokovic deserves criticism but so do others in this sorry saga

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As one of the most extraordinary days in the history of professional tennis finally came to an end, uncertainty still reigned. Novak Djokovic had started Thursday at the beginning of what would become about 10 hours of waiting and questioning at passport control in Tullamarine airport in Melbourne, before his visa was cancelled and deportation loomed.

He ended the day alone in an immigration hotel in Carlton. According to reports from Serbia, Djokovic’s futile hopes of leaving the hotel to join his team were quashed, his only company the insects and the bugs beside him in his room. Outside, fans gathered to brandish their Serbian flags and sing Balkan folk songs into the night.

It is still unclear where Djokovic goes from here. He has appealed against the federal government’s ruling on his visa and he will remain in Melbourne until Monday at least, the day of his hearing, with the hope of putting this case behind him. But even if he is able to overturn the ruling and compete for his 10th Australian Open title, this has been an unwanted, emotionally draining episode that has helped nobody and has reflected terribly on all involved.

On the court, Djokovic continues to pull off magical feats. Last season, every single Grand Slam tournament seemed to yield a new all-time record, from clinching the record number of weeks at No 1 to the astounding feat of securing every single Grand Slam tournament and Masters 1000 event at least twice. He is the men’s player of the decade by a mile.

Yet his breathless ability on the court is paired with his frequent tendency to self-sabotage. It is often said about the best players that their greatest opponents are themselves but Djokovic takes it to new levels. He chases history and a record-setting 21 Grand Slam titles, yet he is so taken by alternative science that he was willing to complicate his chances by arriving unvaccinated at one of the world’s strictest borders. It is hubris and it is the single-minded self-belief that drives his tennis but also so often leads him astray.

The decisions he makes reflect the necessity of having the right people around with wise counsel. It is particularly notable that while Djokovic remained stuck at the border, members of his team strolled into Melbourne. The absurdity of this whole affair was dissected by, of all people, Rafael Nadal. “I think if he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem,” he said, shrugging.

A man walks past a hotel where Novak Djokovic is reported to be staying in Melbourne. Photograph: William West/AFP via Getty Images
A man walks past a hotel where Novak Djokovic is reported to be staying in Melbourne. Photograph: William West/AFP via Getty Images

It seems unlikely that Djokovic will look at this episode as an opportunity to grow. More often than not, the injustices that Djokovic perceives to have suffered tend to have the opposite effect, only furthering his resolve and reaffirming the belief that he is one man up against the world.

No matter how this plays out, this incident is merely setting the tone for the seasons to come. On the same day that Djokovic was flying towards his fate in Melbourne, Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, was controversially revealing his plan to “piss off” unvaccinated citizens. The French Open is, incidentally, the next Grand Slam and it is likely that more vaccine mandates are to come for the travelling group of tennis players, with more decisions for Djokovic and others to make.

While Djokovic continues to receive scorn, all entities involved are deserving of criticism. Over the past few years it has become standard to see Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia’s chief executive, appear on TV to smooth over controversy and promote the top players.

Indeed, as Djokovic was flying into Melbourne Tiley was front and centre as he reassured the public of the robustness of the medical panels that decided who received exemptions. Since the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa, he has been conspicuous in his absence from the airwaves.

Tiley’s silence reflects the undeniable failures of Tennis Australia and the Victorian government, those medical exemptions allowing Djokovic to enter the tournament but having no effect on federal border policy once he arrived there. Tiley revealed that of 26 applicants only a “handful” of exemptions were granted, some of which are now reportedly being examined more closely.

The failures of Tennis Australia and Victoria government do not absolve the federal government and the bickering between state and federal entities that has defined this situation.

One day before Djokovic arrived in Australia, the country’s president, Scott Morrison, was asked in a press conference about Djokovic’s imminent arrival; he described it as an issue for Victoria state. A day later he swiftly changed his tune. It could be concluded that it wasn’t until then that he realised the political points to be scored from being seen to act harshly.

Shortly after Djokovic’s visa had been cancelled, Morrison cynically moved to take credit for the decision, resorting to harmful populist rhetoric regarding his border controls. “Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders,” he said. “No one is above these rules.”

Ironically, though, one positive aspect of this incident is the increased attention on just how cruel Morrison’s border policies are. Even if he is banished from the country, Djokovic will be fine. He has the resources and profile to seek out representatives when most would have been sent on the first flight back home. There are 36 refugees at Djokovic’s Park hotel. Some have been stuck in the hotel for eight years, victims of those very same border controls Morrison boasted about and treated abhorrently by the state ever since. They deserve the attention and compassion that politicians like Morrison lack. – Guardian

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Djokovic violated Australia’s highest national value – a ‘fair go’

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Every few years, a celebrity tries to test out the Australian border and in a nationalistic show of strength they are sent packing.

To the outside world it might seem from time to time that Australia chooses a celebrity to sacrifice at the altar of sovereignty. It must seem we make an example out of them, to scare everyone else off lying on their immigration forms and from smuggling forbidden, squashed fruit from the aeroplane meal into the country.

Things got a bit heated back in 2015 when Johnny Depp and Amber Heard sneaked their dogs into the island nation with a delicate ecosystem and a fondness for biosecurity. It escalated when the now deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce threatened to have the dogs put down.

Depp and Heard ended up copping a fine, complying with procedures and were made to film a video apologising to Australia in a performance as natural and warm as a hostage proof of life tape.

Depp eventually turned around and said Joyce looked like he was “inbred with a tomato”, but only after he was safely back in the US, like the notable big man he is. Deputy PM Joyce recently shot back in trademark eloquence calling Depp a “deadshit” live on national breakfast television.

Citizens of other (more boring) countries might be dismayed that their national 2ic would trade verbal blows with Captain Jack Sparrow. Not Australians though, who are taught in high school that our economy and trade could be threatened by an outbreak caused from improperly imported fauna and flora. We said “Good onya Barnaby” for applying the rules fairly and squarely, regardless of stardom.

There was broad support for his actions at the time, just as there has for the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa. There has been a lot of legal wrangling involving the Balkan bad boy of tennis, who is now to be deported, but for Australians the stoush was really over one thing: did he try to get around the rules?

There’s a lot of overseas analysis around the Australian public and the political will behind pursuing the case against the tennis star. After all “Djoker” (Jock-a), as he’s known here, is one of the biggest crowd-drawing players at the Australian Open, a banner event in a country where sport is the default religion. Why not let this one slide?

It’s being said that Australians just love rules. But I think this is over simplistic. What Australians actually love is fairness. In past surveys Australians have listed “fairness” and getting a “fair go” as their highest national values. There is an expectation that it doesn’t matter who the person is, they should be treated equally. We hate special treatment, particularly when it’s a public figure appearing to bend the rules the rest of us are following.

In Ireland sometimes there is the ‘ah here, sure look, go on ahead’ approach. This can be a publican letting patrons stay for a sneaky lock in, the bus driver letting you on when you don’t have correct change, but also includes say a person keeping their high-profile job after attending a certain golf function.

Rules in Ireland are bent for people we know, just as we give jobs, rentals and sometimes vaccines to people we know, in the name of “helping out”. This is seen as a positive thing by those receiving the favour, and “nepotism” by others.

Of course, Australia also has favouritism and nepotism but we like to think we don’t. Rules equate to fairness. Everybody has to be inconvenienced equally. Someone trying to get around rules when the rest of us are stuck following rules, even if they’re ones we hate, deserves to be punished.

Covid-19 has exacerbated the situation. No one is enjoying Covid rules. “I am doing the right thing, and it’s deprived me of joy just so this utter tiprat next to me can ignore them at will” is the angry thought rattling around in our rage filled brains.

Australians have not forgotten the 40,000 or so “stranded Aussies” who remained stuck overseas thanks to strict border controls during the pandemic. Those who did not get to see dying parents or hold their own children. A multi-millionaire tennis player seemingly looking for a loophole to hit a ball about for a few weeks because he refused to be vaccinated was never going to go down well.

When Djokovic stayed at the Park Hotel, the only people who might have been happy to see him were the asylum seekers who have been held there for years by the Australian Government while they await processing. They made signs and waved to TV cameras, hoping to draw attention to the “rules” keeping them locked up without an end in sight.

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Interiors trends for 2022: It’s all about vibrant designs and natural textures

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Some home trends last the course (think sustainable design and open-plan living), while others are, thankfully, fleeting (goodbye matching furniture and round beds). 

But there are a few we can count on to stay the distance this year.

So here’s what we think will be in vogue for the next 12 months.

Jaunty: A striped armchair. Curves, spheres, lozenges and circular silhouettes reflect our current desire for a greater sense of flexibility in the way we merge work and play

Jaunty: A striped armchair. Curves, spheres, lozenges and circular silhouettes reflect our current desire for a greater sense of flexibility in the way we merge work and play

Soft shapes

Curves, spheres, lozenges and circular silhouettes reflect our current desire for a greater sense of flexibility in the way we merge work and play.

‘You can expect to see more organic shapes coming to the forefront in terms of furniture,’ says the Dining Chair Co’s Amanda Huber. 

‘Curved designs feature softer lines, creating a less strict and more informal setting.’ Check out the gracious shape of Soho Home’s Luciana sofa, £2,495.

Playful pieces

The latest interiors don’t take themselves too seriously — the idea is to elevate simple materials or use them in a creative way.

Think wide, jaunty stripes on an overscaled armchair (take a look at Buchanan Studio’s Studio chair, £2,394, for inspiration), half-length linen café curtains used as cupboard skirts, and trims, tassels, bobbles and fringing on curtains, lampshades and upholstery. 

Relaxed, unfitted kitchens also feed into this look: Buster + Punch’s latest foray into freestanding cabinetry is designed to easily adapt to lifestyle shifts.

Earthy: Bold, natural colours are set to have a resurgence in our homes next year

Earthy: Bold, natural colours are set to have a resurgence in our homes next year 

Colour confidence

More of us are experimenting with colour — whether that’s mixing bold primary tones, colour washing our walls or choosing confident finishes such as all-gloss or soft plaster. 

Warm hues and nature’s tones are set to prevail, from rich terracotta and sand to olive and deeper greens.

This calming, earthy palette suits our renewed connection to nature during the ebbs and flows of the pandemic, when ‘home’ has become a byword for sanctuary. Look out for calming and uplifting bright blues.

Handcrafted appeal

Items that feature the hand of their maker inject individuality, such as the beautifully detailed pieces of Galvin Brothers: the Bobbin Side Table, £375, or the Fluted Cabinet, £4,800, both future design classics, which take inspiration from the shape of ancient columns.

Introduce handcrafted appeal through lighting, too. Susie Atkinson’s Plato lamp bases, inspired by 1940s conical leather lamps, are coated in high gloss colours. They work well with a hand-painted or trimmed shade; Rosi de Ruig’s are a timeless option, priced from £60.

Swish: Bert & May¿s Ric Rac tile from designer Samantha Todhunter

Swish: Bert & May’s Ric Rac tile from designer Samantha Todhunter

Mindful design

Lessening our impact on the planet remains key. 

‘Sustainability is not a trend, but a key design principle,’ says Kelling Designs’ Emma Deterding. 

‘It’s about changing our mindset to embrace upcycling, reupholstering and repairing.’ 

This also translates into buying fewer but better pieces and researching provenance.

‘Seek out items made from recycled materials, such as outdoor furniture produced from recycled aluminium, upcycled fabrics or fabric leftovers for upholstery, and recycled glass for tableware and tops,’ says interior designer Claudia Ludwig.

Flexible living

With many of us required to work from home at a moment’s notice, our living spaces need to accommodate relaxing, escaping, cooking and working. So quality joinery is high priority.

‘All of my projects focus on it, from library style shelving and desks to concealed storage,’ says interior designer Louise Robinson.

‘Another trend that has become hugely popular is open-plan layouts and indoor/outdoor living, which is set to continue as we try to reclaim our homes from pandemic living,’ says Fionnuala Johnston, senior home designer at John Lewis.

Try textures

The trick is to look for less obvious ways to introduce these familiar elements. Try opting for warm oak internal doors rather than ubiquitous Crittall; lining front door surrounds and frames with richly veined marble or using tactile Zellige tiles in bathrooms and kitchens.

Check out Bert & May’s new Ric Rac collection with designer Samantha Todhunter, whose pattern is inspired by the ric rac ribbon she used to sew onto the Spanish dancing skirts she made as a child.

Global interiors

Armchair travel is on the rise as many are reluctant to take risks.

That translates to confident interiors that are embracing global design motifs, from deeply pictorial wallpaper such as Osborne & Little’s Portovenere, featuring retro Ligurian village scenes, £94 per roll, to patterned flora and fauna soft furnishings.

Charming ceramics

Spanish and Italian handmade pottery is enjoying a resurgence. See the vintage collection at The Edition 94, from £40 per plate and the range of decorative jugs, plates and dishes by traditional maker Cerámica J. Marín, available at Liberty.

Savings of the week! Winter duvets

Dunelm¿s Fogarty Soft Touch microfibre-filled duvet costs from £17.60 to £35, depending on size

Dunelm’s Fogarty Soft Touch microfibre-filled duvet costs from £17.60 to £35, depending on size

Fuel bills are set to soar. Since turning up your thermostat against winter chills will harm the wallet this year, consider a new duvet, an item on which heartwarming savings are now available,

This will also be an investment in better sleep, improving your health and mood in the morning. 

If you share your bed, a 10.5 tog rating duvet should be sufficiently cosy.

Dunelm’s Fogarty Soft Touch microfibre-filled duvet costs from £17.60 to £35, depending on size, a 20 per cent reduction. 

A kingsize costs £33.60, down from £42. For a little more, you can have the microfibre-filled Feels-Like-Down duvet from bedding store Julian Charles, which costs from £55 to £85, a 50 per cent reduction. 

The Woolroom Deluxe costs from £112.50 after a 25 per cent reduction

The Woolroom Deluxe costs from £112.50 after a 25 per cent reduction

The price of the kingsize is £75, down from £150.

Happy to splurge? Then prices for Marks & Spencer’s Luxury Siberian goosedown duvet start at £192, down 40 per cent.

Should you dream of snuggling up under a British wool-filled duvet, the Woolroom Deluxe costs from £112.50 after a 25 per cent reduction. 

The kingsize is £157.50 down from £210.

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One winner claims €19m Lotto jackpot in first ‘will be won’ draw

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After more than 60 draws over seven months the €19.06 million National Lottery jackpot was finally won tonight by one person who matched all six numbers.

The jackpot had remained capped at €19.06 million since October 2nd and had not been won since June last year. It is the biggest National Lottery jackpot win in in the State.

The jackpot numbers drawn were: 2, 9, 16, 30, 37, 40 while the bonus number was 23.

Tonight had been the first “will be won” National Lottery draw which could have seen the prize shared among those who matched five numbers and a bonus number, or, if still no winners, those who matched five numbers, in the absence of an overall winner.

However, this process was not required as one lucky person matched all six numbers.

Almost €5.5 million was shared by 149 players who matched five numbers and the bonus number.

The National Lottery said it would will reveal details on where the winning ticket was sold in the coming days.

A spokesman for the National Lottery advised everyone who played to check their tickets.

“If they are the lucky winner, we encourage them to sign the back of the ticket immediately and contact our prize claims team on 1800 666 222 or email claims@lottery.ie , and we will make arrangements for you to collect your prize.”

Earlier the Lotto app and website came under severe strain ahead of the first “will be won” jackpot draw.

Some users of the Lotto App were confronted with this message in the minutes shortly before the cut-off to buy tickets.
Some users of the Lotto App were confronted with this message in the minutes shortly before the cut-off to buy tickets.

Some players seeking to play via the Lotto app shortly before the 7.45pm cut-off were told that “due to high traffic volumes we are experiencing technical difficulties”.

The National Lottery website was also displaying a “currently unavailable” message shortly before the draw at 8pm.

Sales of tickets for tonight’s draw were reported to have been significantly higher than a standard draw.

The succession of jackpot rollovers had prompted the operator of the National Lottery, Premier Lotteries Ireland, to seek the addition of the “will be won” draw.

In future lottery jackpots will only rollover five times once the prize cap has been reached.

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