Covid-19: losing setback for Novak Djokovic

Editorial of the “World”. Emmanuel Macron is not the only one who wants to “piss off” the unvaccinated. Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, also wants to make life complicated for those who try to evade the common rules on the health plan, including when your name is Novak Djokovic and you are number one world of tennis.

The Serbian player, who intends to participate in the Australian Open – the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, of which he is the outgoing winner – has been banned from entering the territory by the federal government. He believes that Djokovic derogates from the vaccine obligation against Covid-19, in force for anyone arriving on Australian soil. The player, he claims to have fulfilled the conditions for exemption set by the Australian Tennis Federation and the Department of Health of the State of Victoria.

According to his lawyers, who filed the documents to this effect in court on Saturday, the champion had contracted the virus in December, which exempted him from the vaccine. Pending a decision on his expulsion, the player, whose visa was canceled, was forced to self-isolate in a Melbourne hotel until Monday, January 10. On Saturday, the Serbian asked to be transferred from this detention center in order to be able to train before the Australian Open.

Unwelcome arrogance

This legal, health and sporting imbroglio has taken on a diplomatic dimension since the President of the Serbian Republic, Aleksandar Vucic, accused Australia of ” bullying ” against Djokovic, claiming that his country will fight “For justice and truth”.

Read also The Serbs mobilize for their star Novak Djokovic, in detention in Australia

Justice first. The principle that the rules should be the same for everyone is hard to dispute. The Serbian player has every right to refuse to be vaccinated, but he must bear the consequences. To believe that the condition of a high-level athlete opens all doors is to show unwelcome arrogance in the pandemic context.

That he claims to free himself from the vaccine obligation decided by the Australian government is all the more questionable as Melbourne holds the record for the number of days (262) spent in confinement since the appearance of the virus. It’s understandable that Australians can be shocked that the rules are relaxed on a discretionary basis for a tennis player, even a nine-time Australian Open winner.

Read also Tennis: Novak Djokovic announces having obtained a “derogation” to go to Australia to play the Open

The truth, then. This is where the situation gets complicated, as there has been an obvious lack of coordination between, on the one hand, the Australian government and, on the other, the tournament organizers and the State of Victoria, who have could lead to believe that the players could, under certain conditions, profit from privileges. Were they clear enough? Did Djokovic try to get around them?

On the other hand, it is obvious that the Australian Tennis Federation, in its concern to ensure the spectacle and the receipts thanks to the presence of the Serbian champion, showed lightness in refraining from consulting the authorities in Canberra. Scott Morrison is today accused by Serbia and fans of “Djoko” of having made a political decision. This is the least that we can expect from a leader whose role is to ensure the general interest to the detriment of private interests.

On the court, Novak Djokovic never excels as much as when he has the public against him. Adversity transcends him. While the vast majority of professional players are vaccinated, he again wanted to play alone against all, at the risk of suffering a losing setback. It shouldn’t be the last. As of March, a series of tournaments is looming in the United States where, there too, the vaccine is compulsory. The trouble, to put it politely, is just beginning.

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Covid-19: losing setback for Novak Djokovic

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