Novak Djokovic and the 2022 Australian OpenTim Strawn
The recent dust-up concerning Novak Djokovic and his participation in the 2022 Australian Open seems to present more questions than it answers. If you take a closer look at things maybe the picture will become more clear.
All players and staff at the tournament must be vaccinated or have an exemption granted by an expert independent panel. Djokovic has not spoken about his vaccination status, but last year said he was “opposed to vaccination”.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that if the player’s evidence was insufficient Djokovic would be on the “next plane home”. Organizers say that Djokovic has not been given special treatment, but nonetheless, many Australians were infuriated over the decision to grant the Serb an exception. Australia is currently seeing tens of thousands of Covid-19 cases for the first time after enduring some of the world’s strictest restrictions so it’s understandable why so many of the countries citizens are upset.
Over 90% of Australia’s over-16 population is fully vaccinated, but some people still cannot travel interstate or globally because of current measures so the question begs to be asked. Why would Djokovic be an exception? As the controversy unfolded, Morrison said Djokovic would be required to present evidence upon arrival that he has a genuine medical exemption from vaccination.
Morrison stated “If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else, there should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever.” This presented problems because his comments seemed to represent a change in his position after he said on Tuesday that the Victoria state government had provided the player with an exemption to enter the country and that officials would act “in accordance with that decision”.
In recent years it’s been pointed out that there are huge discrepancies in the way the wealthy are treated as opposed to the working class. Many Australians had previously accused the government of allowing the elite class special privileges while ordinary people remained separated from sick and dying loved ones. What follows are just a couple of quotes that I found by doing a generic online search.
“I think it’s a disgrace,” Melbourne resident Christine Wharton told ABC. “We’ve all done the right thing, we’ve all gone out and got our jabs and our boosters and we have someone that has come from overseas, and all of a sudden he’s been exempt and can play.”
A&E doctor Stephen Parnis tweeted: “I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. If he’s refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn’t be allowed in.”
It’s always interesting to see the various responses from current and former players and here’s a few from that group.
Australian Alex de Minaur: “I just think it’s very interesting. That’s all I’m going to say,”
Britain’s Jamie Murray: “I think if it was me that wasn’t vaccinated I wouldn’t be getting an exemption. You know, but well done to him for getting clear to come to Australia and compete.”
Australian Rod Laver: The reason for the exemption should be made public, saying the situation “might get ugly”. “Yes, you’re a great player and you’ve performed and won so many tournaments, so it can’t be physical,” he said. “So what is the problem?”
The tournament’s chief executive, Craig Tiley, said 26 athletes had applied for medical exemptions. “A handful” had been granted, he said, under guidelines set by federal regulators. “We made it extra difficult for anyone applying for an application to ensure it was the right process and to make sure the medical experts deal with it independently,”
At this writing, a final decision has not been made but the latest in the saga is that Djokovic’s visa has been denied by Australian Border Forces. His lawyers have stated they intend to file an appeal.
So, where do you stand? Should he be allowed an exemption or not? Please leave your comments below.