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.
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You’ve got to abide by the rules of the country you’re going to. It seems like Novak is asking for his own rules, as far as I can tell.
From what I can tell, he was granted a medical exemption but this was from Tennis Australia. This is what has so many Australians up in arms. They feel like Djokovic is receiving special treatment while they’re having to abide by a different set of rules.
Here’s what I found online today.
“Mr Djokovic had received, on 30 December 2021, a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording that he had been provided with a ‘Medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID,” the document said.
Djokovic’s first Covid-positive PCR test was recorded on December 16, 2021, and after not showing signs of a fever or “respiratory symptoms” he later applied for a medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open, according to the court filing.
The documents, which have been submitted to the court ahead of Djokovic’s hearing Monday, confirmed the 34-year-old — who has previously voiced opposition to Covid-19 vaccines and vaccines mandates — was unvaccinated when he arrived in Australia on January 5th Looks like we’ll have to wait until Monday to see the final ruling
It almost has that “But Dad, Mom said it was OK” feel to it.
I can’t believe Novak and/or his people would go on the assumption that they didn’t need approval from the Aussie government or whoever is in charge of allowing travelers into the country.
This looks bad for him and, if he does get to play, the crowd will be all over him, I think.
I don’t think he should be entitled to play. There have been studies that show that unvaccinated people are more likely to spread Covid due to carrying a higher viral load than a vaccinated person. Also, that an unvaccinated person carries the virus and can shed it for a longer period of time. He could have been exposed to the virus via his coaching staff, his family, friends, etc. and not have symptoms. If he’s had it in December (as he claimed), he will test positive for antibodies possibly for months. Having no symptoms is also not a great indicator, since more recent studies have shown the Omicron variant to be most contagious 2-3 days before symptoms start. Second, I don’t think Emirates (or any airline for that matter) should have let him on the plane. Like Nadal suggested, he made up his mind not to take the vaccine, he knew the possible consequences.
There’s an ongoing debate that Djokovic is a part of. Who’s the GOAT and he obviously feels that whoever has the most Grand Slam titles will wear that crown. IMHO, that’s a very narrow view of what constitutes who’s the greatest male player of all time. There are just too many variables to be considered and unfortunately for Djokovic, he’s left some boxes unchecked.
After his AO debacle, I suspect too many people will feel like this only moves him further away from wearing that crown. His, along with his parent’s antics through the whole ordeal have not improved his standing. Tennis Australia had no authority to grant him the access he thought he needed so when the proper authorities weigh in, he very well may find himself back on his plane and leaving the country. If that doesn’t happen I’m afraid it’s going to be a stain on the entire sport.
Today’s prevailing winds indicate that special treatment for celebrities and the rich have run their course. Even if he plays he’s most likely not going to be well received plus, there’s no guarantee he’ll win the title if he does play. Medvedev beat him in NYC for the U.S. Open crown in 3 straight sets and there are plenty of up-and-coming young players that have already proven they can beat him.
GOAT stands for “Greatest of All Time” but no one, to my knowledge, has ever defined all of the qualities behind that title. Maybe that’s the new debate the sport needs!
Here’s a link to the most recent happenings with the Djokovic saga. He’s been released from detention but he’s still not completely cleared to stay permanently
Here’s the latest news as of today on the Djokovic situation in Melbourne. It would seem that he’s on his way out of the country and if he’s deported, I understand that he won’t be able to come back to Australia for 3 years.