18 January 2022

Djokovic saga highlights the dangers of putting sportspeople on a pedestal

| Tim Gavel
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Novak Djokovic

On 4 January, Novak Djokovic posted this picture and tweeted, “I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!”

Over the past few years, Canberra’s sportsmen and women have been prominent promoting causes and charities considered beneficial to the community.

You would have seen the Raiders, Brumbies and CBR Brave players offering support for young men in our community battling mental health issues with organisations like Menslink.

Or you might be aware of the role that Patty Mills plays as a leading voice in the ‘We Got You’ campaign against racism.

And there’s the Canberra Cavalry’s Night of Pride supporting Canberra’s LGBTQIA+ community.

Andy Muirhead

Brumbies winger Andy Muirhead in the club’s first Indigenous jersey. Photo: File.

Also significant are the concerted efforts by the UC Capitals, the Raiders and the Brumbies in acknowledging and paying respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Or the RESPECT program led by the Gungahlin Eagles in calling out bad behaviour in sport, and the Canberra Netball and Dragon Boat communities have played a role in supporting women with breast cancer.

Lifeline ambassadors ready to pitch in for Canberra Cavalry

Lifeline ambassadors: Paralympian Sarah Walsh, the Brave’s Hayden Dawes, the Cav’s Robbie Perkins, Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Leeson, Cav’s mascot Sarge, mental health advocate Ben Farinazzo and Mariana Tolo from the UC Capitals. Photo: Cavalry Media.

Many more examples highlight the role sportspeople play in our community by being positive influencers.

All this happens because we are all aware of the significant clout sportspeople have due to their sporting prowess.

Many are revered. They’re put on a pedestal with their every move watched and their every word listened to. Whether they want it or not, these sportspeople are role models and, as such, they possess considerable power to cut through and deliver meaningful messages.

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When they use their power for the greater good, we applaud them – but there’s always a flipside when famous people are caught up in current events.

When world number one Novak Djokovic decided to walk away from a potential 10th Australian Open title rather than have a COVID vaccination, Australia made a high-profile martyr out of a man who didn’t follow the rules. It was an unfortunate consequence of poor management by pretty much everyone involved: the Federal Government, Tennis Australia and Team Djokovic (the man and his entourage).

Novak is not alone.

There has also been pushback by some in the NRL and AFL communities against being vaccinated. In some cases, there’s the possibility players will walk away from the sport rather than get the jab.

The response to this needs to be carefully considered, given the level of publicity unvaccinated sports stars can generate. Can we handle these issues better and earlier, rather than allowing them to spin out of control?

The hope, of course, is that the pro-vaccination message delivered by the majority of sports stars who are well aware of the influence they have in the broader community drowns out the likes of Novak Djokovic and a handful of NRL and AFL players.

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The ultimate outcomes of this decision.

1. When someone is questionable about coming in, people will protest to have their visa cancelled.
2. The actual purpose of these laws are now subverted and when we need them won’t have them available. Abuse now and lose later.

Have you been living under a rock?

1. This has happened regularly for decades.

2. Similarly, as they’ve always had this function, what is to be subverted?

I don’t think we should grant visa’s to those who don’t forward chain posts on facebook within the allocated timelimit.

Robin Bontjer, because he did not donate $4M. It was $25k, after a push from Sharapova who donated that then tagged him to match it. Any other queries?

Djokovic doesn’t want to play here anyway.

There are reports he is in talks with lawyers to sue the Australian government for $6 million for bad treatment.

So he doesn’t seem to want the Australian government to exercise goodwill and cut the 3 year ban on entering the country.

Megan van der Velde7:57 pm 19 Jan 22

Super tired of people kicking a ball being heroes. Many of them have a lot of money and are young and do not treat women well. I know they are clever however so are the people in theatre acting, people discovering new diseases and the people that cure your brain tumour or cancer. And probably get paid a lot less. We need equal status and pay for community heroes. I will never understand why kicking a goal is worth millions of dollars while discovering vaccines is not.

HiddenDragon6:40 pm 19 Jan 22

It would be easier to take seriously the federal government’s utterly over-the-top reaction to Djokovic’s stance on vaccination if it weren’t for the fact that they treat as “double vaccinated”, for purposes of entry to Australia, people who have received vaccines which were shown to be next to useless even before Omicron came along – and make no requirement as to the recency of vaccination and/or whether a booster dose has been received.

What we have seen makes The Simpsons in Australia episode look more like a documentary than an a heavy-handed caricature, and also has some striking echoes of this case –


Perhaps they should have asked Djokovic to complete his papers in Gaelic.

Even funnier is the feds have stated that quarantine is a state responsibility, yet here they are getting involved muddying the waters.

And only need to look to see how even now different states are imposing different entry requirements on overseas arrivals including vaccination status. So double vacced can land in NSW or Vic and only do 72 hours at home. WA 2 weeks regardless and other states everything in between.

That said the Joker should never have been allowed to travel to Australia in the first place. This is of course different to being issues a visa where vaccination status isn’t a requirement.

Bill Vojislav Stojanovi?5:23 pm 19 Jan 22

I am neither anti or pro vaccine. Each person should be able to choose if the vaccine is for them. Collegue of mine sadly had a reaction to AZ vaccine. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation, not able to walk? He is a farmer and because of his current health condition, he and his wife have been forced to put their farm up for auction. This was not just their livelihood it was their life? Then there are athlete’s who you would consider are in excellent health conditions. They have sacrificed so much to be at the top of their game, and then they are told that they have to be vaccinated to continue competing in their sport. That is so wrong. Why should a person be forced to put something into their body that could harm them and possibly end their career.
Link below relates to my colleagues condition.

They aren’t forced to get Vaccinated, they are simply being prevented from putting other people at a higher risk because of their choice.

These tennis players are travelling around the world and interacting with many other people.

Why should their choice to be unvaccinated be more important than the health of everyone else?

Djokovic saga highlights the dangers of government tyranny.

Lynn Nicholas, do you really think it judicious to write, “If you are going to read articles and quote them please read reputable science based ones” in reply to someone who offers The Lancet as their reference? We need to look further at that source.

Ania Lian’s problems are selective quotation and a conclusion non sequitur. The flaws in the article itself are that it includes a doubtful premise and is just correspondence, a letter, an opinion and not research.

The letter’s premise that “The scientific rationale for mandatory vaccination in the USA relies on the premise that vaccination prevents transmission” is directly at odds with the oft-stated rationale of keeping the load off medical resources, not to mention the social aim of keeping people not unnecessarily dead. See the opening statement of the letter, avoided by Ania Lian, “Vaccine effectiveness studies have conclusively demonstrated the benefit of COVID-19 vaccines in reducing individual symptomatic and severe disease, resulting in reduced hospitalisations and intensive care unit admissions”. They seem pretty good reasons for vaccination.

And what is the letter’s conclusion? That mandatory vaccination implies a fascist State, as Ania Lian apparently infers? No. After suggesting reconsideration (not opposing) mandatory vaccination on that earlier doubtful premise, it concludes, “…vaccination status should not replace mitigation practices such as mask wearing, physical distancing, and contact-tracing investigations, even within highly vaccinated populations.”

CaptainSpiff10:16 am 19 Jan 22

The whole episode illustrates the psychosis this country is under. ND was here *by the rules*. For those who don’t like those rules, your beef is with VIC gov and TA, who allowed an exemption, not just for ND but for other much lesser known tennis players as well.

Jailing the top tennis player in the world (did they perhaps think he was a flight risk?), then deporting him based on the personal opininion of the Immigration Minister, makes this country look like a basket case.

Except he clearly wasn’t here “by the rules” as the clear advice from the Federal government on when a medical exemption should apply shows.

The Vic Gov and TA aren’t in charge of borders or visas.

And Djokovic was never jailed, he was always free to leave the country of his own accord. By electing to fight the decisions of Border Force and the minister, he was treated like every other person would be.

CaptainSpiff4:47 pm 19 Jan 22

Really? The PM is on record the day before he arrived, saying his visa was a matter for VIC gov. And the federal border force was happy to let other players through, on the same exemption, before ND arrived. Even the government, in Federal Court, agreed he was here on a valid visa, and the court concluded the border force had erred. The facts are all out there.

If you think he broke rules, why didn’t the Immigration Minister mention that as a reason for deporting him?

Don’t know what world you are living in.

“And the federal border force was happy to let other players through, on the same exemption, before ND arrived.”

Who were then removed because a mistake had been made.

“Even the government, in Federal Court, agreed he was here on a valid visa, and the court concluded the border force had erred. The facts are all out there.”

Except this never happened. The only thing the court found was that due process wasn’t followed. If Border Force hadn’t cancelled his visa before the morning deadline they’d given, he would have been gone straight away.

The findings of the court after the minister cancelled the visa was simply that the Minister’s actions in cancelling the visa were lawful. Nothing more.

“If you think he broke rules, why didn’t the Immigration Minister mention that as a reason for deporting him?”

The answer is politics. The Feds knew that the Minister’s powers are so broad that their line of reasoning would guarantee success without the bad political look of having further discussion around the exemption issue playing out in the media.

The ATAGI advice on prior infection not being a contraindication to vaccination was clear.

I’m living on Earth, not sure where you are.

Visa and ability to enter the country are two different things. Being vaccinated for covid is not a requirement for being granted a visa. Though it is an extra condition that is imposed on ability to enter the country. Remember no matter what just because you have a valid visa it doesn’t mean you will be allowed into the country.

As I mentioned in another thread where this is all gets messy is from the beginning of the pandemic the federal government has made quarantine a state government issue. This extends to the states determining which foreign arrivals need to quarantine and who doesn’t need to. How is the Joker’s arrival any different?

To me the issue with the Joker is ultimately one of quarantine (health) not a visa issue so the state government should have ultimate say in granting an exemption or not. Though of course this was made a visa issue by the intervention of the minister to cancel his visa, not because he was unvaccinated but on character grounds that he would incite anti vax sentiment.

Now don’t get me wrong don’t think the joker should have been allowed to come here, but the federal government getting involved in what they have always said was a state issue and more to the point claiming the Joker would incite anti vac sentiment is a long straw and nothing more the political pandering. Especially when a member of the very government is not only anti vax but encouraging others to not vax but spreading total miss information. Need the ask where is the greater risk?

I wonder whether Djokovic really had COVID in December.

It seems rather coincidental. He wasn’t going to be able to play here, then is “lucky” enough to get COVID which he thought would let him in despite not being vaccinated.

Perhaps he didn’t actually have it and the documentation proving he did was faked.

That would also explain why he did a sit down interview with a reporter and photo shoots with kids. He wouldn’t be worried about infecting people if he didn’t actually have COVID.

Yes, agreed. The timing, Djokovic’s own actions whilst apparently COVID positive and the ease of acquiring fake PCR test results make the whole thing extremely suspect.

For sure. But would be very hard to prove especially seeing how protective the Serbian government is of their hero.

If true though he must be superhuman like trump. To have it and recover sufficiently to travel and play tennis so quickly.

Stephen Saunders8:38 am 19 Jan 22

Tennis Aust should have told their Serbian hero straight. No jab, big trouble. Instead of pandering to his galactic ego and loony notions. Theirs is a big fail.

Now Morrison is repeating Howard’s “Tampa” playbook. Posturing “Strong Borders” while gunning for huge levels of migration in 2022-23. COVID or no COVID.

Capital Retro3:48 pm 19 Jan 22

Maintain the rage, Stephen.

Capital Retro8:34 am 19 Jan 22

It seems that Twitter was created exclusively for them.

The opinions of athletes, singers and TV & Movie stars are generally worthless.

Many do not live in the “real world” and do not face the same issues as most Australians.

Sure, value what they say about the areas they have true expertise in (such as a cricketer talking about cricket) but do not think they have valid views on other topics just because they are celebrities.

COVID has made it quite obvious that many celebrities are morons.

Despite their often impressive pay packets, celebrities generally provide little real benefit to most of us.

The person who drives the garbage truck down your street, or processes your Medicare claim or your Centrelink payments does more of real value than a celebrity does.

That’s because plumbers, truck drivers and shelf stackers don’t fill up the advertising space for print and digital media. Celebrities do for some reason

Well, that’s certainly a take.

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