Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic: Is Australia right to deport tennis star?

Mark Baker / AP

Fact Box

  • Novak Djokovic is a Serbian tennis player known for 20 Grand Slam titles and most year-end no.1 finishes in Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) history.
  • Djokovic was deported from Australia after a 10-day battle for his visa to defend his position in the Australia Open, which was canceled based on “health and good order” and encouraging anti-vaccine sentiments. 
  • Djokovic was initially granted “medical exemption” to enter Australia by Tennis Australia and the state government of Australia, but was detained on January 5, 2022 by the Australian Border Force for falling short of vaccination exemption. He previously had and recovered from COVID in December 2021. 
  • A survey from The-Sun Herald and Sunday Age found that 71% of Australians believe Djokovic should not be allowed to stay in Australia even with his original medical exemption.
  • As of January 20, 2022, nearly 93% of Australians over the age of 16 are double vaccinated against COVID-19.

Siam (Yes)

Novak Djokovic, the number one ranked player in the world, was set to defend his Australian tennis grand slam title this week but was deported by the Australian authorities on Monday. And for good reason. Djokovic had repeatedly refused to reveal his vaccination status to the public and openly shared his vaccination hesitance. In a tournament where almost all of the players were vaccinated per Australian rules, it would not have been fair to exempt only Djokovic

Likewise, Djokovic arrived in Australia having failed to get a proper medical exemption. Djokovic has previously stated his general hesitancy against vaccines and arrived unvaccinated. His only argument for an exemption was that he had recently acquired COVID; this reason was deemed not adequate to obtain a visa and enter Australia. 

Third, the majority of Australians have been vaccinated and faced severe restrictions in their lifestyle for the better part of two years. Initially being offered a 'pass' to play by the tennis authorities was widely perceived as unfair when the population had made huge sacrifices during this pandemic thus far. Furthermore, an investigation revealed that Djokovic had not been truthful on his travel declaration form about his recent visit to Spain. It was only after the initial visa was granted that investigations uncovered Djokovic had traveled there within the past 14 days, despite having been infected with COVID. Another glaring fact discovered was Djokovic had conducted a live interview with the French newspaper L'equipe, even after testing positive for COVID. Finally, it was deemed by the Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke that the decision to deport Djokovic served 'public interest,' realizing the importance of doing the right thing on the world stage.

Curtice (No)

Tennis star Novak Djokovic had intended to play in the Australian Open, which is how he earns his living. Australia requires anyone entering the country to be vaccinated. Djokovic is unvaccinated, which drew the ire of Australian authorities. He was detained and ultimately deported from Australia for breaking their rules. 

It's not necessarily that Australia erred in adhering to their rules by deporting Djokovic. Rather, the rules themselves are the problem, being wholly illogical and concerning. From the outset of COVID, Australia has taken extreme measures to deal with the pandemic, many of them bordering on police-state tactics. It is these extreme restrictions and rules that put a stranglehold on freedom and individual liberty that are wrong. This is where Australia has become an utter disaster.

As has been evident worldwide, vaccines do not prevent one from catching or spreading COVID, especially the current Omicron variant. Djokovic posed no greater threat to anyone else than would a vaccinated person.

Djokovic is but one person, albeit a high-profile one. However, his situation highlights the economic impact the tyrannical measures enacted by Australia have had, not only on one individual but the country at large. Destroying its own economy through extended lockdowns, isolation, business shutdowns, curfews, quarantines, Gestapo-like thuggery of the COVID-positive or the unvaccinated, censorship, and stifling of freedom will have repercussions for Australia long after COVID has fallen into the 'memory hole.'

This is not about one tennis star; it's about how a supposedly free country has acted abysmally towards its citizens in the name of 'health and safety.' Australians need to rethink who they choose as their leaders.

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