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Opinions of Monday, 17 January 2022

Columnist: Francis Tawiah

Australia ejects the tennis world number one

Novak Djokovic, Tennis player Novak Djokovic, Tennis player

Australia has kicked the tennis world number one out of the country. It is the right decision because the tennis star has disregarded all the rules. And thus presented a stance that stands for many vaccination opponents and Corona deniers.

Novak Djokovic could be back in Dubai by now

Immediately after the Federal Court ruled that the Australian government's revocation of his visa was legal, the tennis world number one drove to Melbourne airport with his entourage and left the country he had held in thrall for eleven days.

The Australian Open will take place without the superstar and record winner, but most Australians are likely to welcome the end of this miserable farce. According to a poll, 70 per cent of Australians were in favour of expulsion. Djokovic had indeed managed to turn a handsome majority of people against him. That fact alone says a lot.

But regardless of that: the decision to kick the stubborn Serb out of the country again is the right one. Djokovic has lied, tricked and deceived so much that the beams bend. At some point, one can no longer hope for tolerance from the other side, for a certain understanding along the lines of: "Hey, he's an opponent of vaccination, but we put up with it because we naturally allow other opinions and views."

Novak Djokovic did not follow any rules

No, Djokovic has not only made formal mistakes, such as misstating that he had not travelled for 14 days before entering Australia on 5 January (he was in Spain for training, this mistake alone would have been enough for deportation, strictly speaking) his behaviour after his infection in December has shown him to be, at the very least, a thoughtless egotist living in his own universe. He neither respected quarantine rules nor was informed about his infection when he had PR appointments with children in Serbia and a photoshoot in France. He is an avowed opponent of vaccination. His stance on the pandemic is, to put it kindly, questionable.

It is precisely this circumstance on which Immigration Minister Alex Hawke built his justification for denying Djokovic a visa. He feared that the Serb would become an icon of the anti-vaccination movement, with nasty consequences for the fight against the pandemic. Hawke saw this as a danger to "public health". And that is exactly what the three Australian judges recognized when they handed down the verdict.

But more questionable than Djokovic's stance on the pandemic, and this is the real issue, is the disregard for those who follow the rules to effectively fight the pandemic.

It is fair to ask the question

Even if one can and must basically live with Djokovic's attitude towards Corona, why actually can't such a person show consideration of his own accord and accept the entry rules? Why can't one of the best tennis players of all time, who likes to present himself publicly as a philanthropist, see sense and do without, simply out of respect for the fact that a majority disagrees? Why can't someone like Djokovic be asked to show a little empathy for the victims of the pandemic, for the bereaved families of the dead, the overworked doctors and nurses, the families and children in lockdown, the fears of the elderly? Just because he wants to win his tenth title at this one tournament?

Djokovic represents the behaviour of many vaccination opponents worldwide.
Three more Grand Slam tournaments follow later this year, where he can win his 21st Grand Slam. And in a year's time, the Australian Open will take place again. Or Djokovic would simply have played by the rules since December. He would have kept his visa as an unvaccinated (probably) and fought for the title from Monday. Perhaps in a historic final against Nadal. What a celebration that would have been.

But instead, there was an entry farce. Like many opponents of vaccination worldwide, he is in fact behaving unrestrainedly selfishly and with a striking lack of consideration for all those who are playing by the rules to finally get the wretched pandemic under control. Djokovic represents the attitude of many vaccination opponents and Corona deniers, who pose as freedom fighters and protectors of their own rights, and who alone want to know exactly what freedom means, but don't give a damn about the freedom of others. That is why it is exactly right that Australia has given Djokovic, (to put it casually) a kick up at his backside if you like, a heavy kick in his ass!