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Novak Djokovic is on his way to being the greatest player in tennis history. He has earned it with titles, talent, sacrifice, and an unwavering competitive mindset. That said, the latest episode with the Australian government is, to say the least, problematic and even outrageous.
Djokovic, in the exercise of his full freedom, decided not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. A decision that should be respected, even if many dislike it. Therefore, due to the strict COVID-related rules of the Australian government, which has spent the last few months persecuting citizens who do not agree with its authoritarian measures, the Serbian tennis player could not compete in the Grand Slam in Australia.
However, these rules were “relaxed” overnight just to let the Serbian compete in one of the most important tournaments of the year in the tennis world. Basically, while Australian citizens are subdued by their authorities: “Nole” is allowed to play tennis without major problems.
It is a matter of notorious privilege that is maximized when one looks at the case of the Russian tennis player Natalia Vikhlyantseva, who was left out of the Australian Open for having taken the Sputnik vaccine, a drug not recognized by the Australian government.
How is it possible that a player vaccinated against the virus you claim to fight has less right than a player who is not vaccinated? It is illogical from any point of view.
But beyond the privileges that Djokovic enjoys today for being the best tennis player in the world, he is not really at fault here. The Serb is not to blame. Should we force him to take a vaccine against his will or prevent him from participating in a tournament for which he’s way beyond prepared? That would be as unfair as leaving Vikhlyantseva out.
The most the Serb could do—which would also be a very powerful gesture—is to show solidarity with the Australians and his colleague Vikhlyantseva. Beyond that, there is little he can do.
Certainly, the disparity of the rules should embarrass the Australian authorities, but the underlying problem is none other than government stupidity. This folly has turned into a kind of sanitary tyranny against Australian citizens themselves, who have suffered repression and harassment for the simple fact of wanting to live freely.
There is no room for euphemism: Australia has become a hypocritical nation that criticizes China but has no qualms about implementing authoritarian formulas to control the virus. It imposes strict laws for civilians but has no problem giving exemptions to well-known figures. The truth is that the government of Australia has made a fool of itself with the Djokovic case and citizens should rise up in that country against the authoritarianism and incompetence of its authorities.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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