The Monumental Sacrifice of Novak Djokovic, by Stacey Rudin

Novak Djokovic stood on principle, sacrificing a chance to write himself into tennis’s record book. From Stacey Rudin at brownstone.org:

Defending Australian Open Champion Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia, the day before commencement of 2022 tournament play. He entered the country on a visa including a medical exemption based on recent Covid infection. Due to public outry over “special treatment,” his visa was revoked upon arrival in the country, only to be reinstated by a court. It was later revoked by an immigration minister, whose decision was upheld by another court, sending Djokovic packing — potentially for three years.

This draconian act puts Djokovic at a serious disadvantage in his Grand Slam rivalry with Rafael Nadal, who is competing in Australia this year after vocally supporting vaccines. Both champions, along with Roger Federer, currently hold 20 Grand Slam titles. Djokovic was favored to be the first to reach 21, but his decision to remain unvaccinated leaves Nadal alone with that opportunity for now. (Federer is out recovering from surgery.)

Djokovic was technically deported for not being vaccinated, but the decision lacks even a superficial “health and safety” justification. Djokovic already had Covid twice, once in early 2020 and again in December 2021. At the time of his deportation, he had been in Australia for ten days, and tested negative. He’s as healthy as a human being can be — you don’t earn “GOAT’ status in the difficult sport of tennis any other way.

Further proof that Djokovic poses no disease threat to anyone is the fact that this tournament was safely played in January 2021, before vaccines were available for any player or guest. Even if Djokovic had taken the vaccine, he’d be no “safer” in terms of his ability to transmit the virus, as the 100,000 daily cases in highly-vaccinated Australia attest.

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