Vaccine stance for Djokovic leaves him lacking support from fellow players | Novak Djokovic

IT is 12 days (from Sunday) since Novak Djokovic announced he would travel to Australia, having been given a medical exemption from a mandated vaccine required for all players who want to play the Australian Open. At the time, public opinion in Australia veered between anger that he should ever be excused from dismay and embarrassment at the way their government handled the whole thing, dumping Djokovic in a detention hotel and having his visa revoked for the second time.

Djokovic’s behavior in the days after he tested positive for Covid-19 – especially the next day, when he fulfilled his obligation to interview the magazine without telling anyone there he tested positive – was widely exposed and drew a first-world apology. He should not be there, but at the same time I do not like what happened to him.

What about fellow players Djokovic? For the man who, in 2020, co-founded a new players’ union (the ATP), designed to serve the interests of all players, the Serbian will not be lost on the fact that his support for him among his peers was relatively unenthusiastic. Although some sympathized with his plight, many believed he should have done what they did, and vaccinated, which is the only sure way to guarantee entry into the country.

Part of that may be due to the complex nature of what has happened to Djokovic since he arrived in Melbourne late on January 5, believing he had a valid medical exemption, which was issued by the state of Victoria and approved by the Australian Tennis Foundation, because he tested positive for Covid on December 16. However, because a previous infection was not a valid reason for foreign travelers to enter Australia, federal officials canceled his visa.

And the saga has continued to the point that Djokovic, having won an initial appeal, is awaiting another on Sunday to see if he can defend his title. Winning the championship, which is unlikely as it now appears, would give Djokovic a record Grand Slam title. There is a lot at stake.

The ATP revealed last week that 97 of the top 100 men had been vaccinated. Many, like Stefanos Tsitsipas, were reluctant to get a jab at first, but did so because they knew that was what was required to continue playing the Tour. Rafael Nadal said in November that not being vaccinated was “kind of selfish”. Djokovic chose not to do so.

Andy Murray, a staunch advocate of vaccines, said he wouldn’t “kick out Novak when he fell,” adding that the whole thing “wasn’t a good situation for anyone.” But Australian Alex de Minaur, ranked No. 42 in the world, hinted at the discontent many people feel in Melbourne, which has endured the longest lockdown of any city in the world.

Photographers outside the offices of Novak Djokovic's lawyer in Melbourne
Photographers outside the offices of Novak Djokovic’s attorney in Melbourne. World No. 1 is trying to cancel the second cancellation of his Australian visa. Photo: Mark Baker/Associated Press

“The Australians have suffered a lot,” he said. “There’s no secret about it. It’s been so hard. They’ve done a lot of work to protect themselves and their borders. When you come in, like any other tennis player, if you want to come to the country, you have to get a double vaccine. It’s up to him, his choices, and his rule.”

Support has come from the most likely source, in the form of Nick Kyrgios, who is hardly his biggest fan. The De Minor native, who said he was vaccinated “for others and my mother’s health”, is highly critical of the way Australia treated Djokovic. It’s just showing bullshit,” Kyrgios told the No Boundaries Podcast. “It’s not about vaccination anymore. I feel sorry for him.

“How we deal with things is very embarrassing. I just think if Australia had handled Covid better I don’t think that would be a big deal. He’s crazy now.

Kyrgios said Djokovic called him to thank him for his support. “Imagine how it feels,” said the Australian. “Maybe he wants a little support from the other players. He gets it from me. I’m not the one who was expecting to be out in the media and have his back.

“He feels alienated and as a human being is a dangerous place to be. On a human level, he needs some support from other players.”

Nick Kyrgios talks to the No Boundaries podcast.

However, many remain upset. Portuguese player Joao Sousa said: “I respect that he fights for what he believes in and I can sympathize with what he’s been going through in Australia, but it’s a bit selfish to come here as the only unvaccinated player. It’s hard for us players to accept that.”

No one out of the way looks good, said Australian Sam Stosur, the former US Open champion who will play her last singles match at the Australian Open. “It was all a little messy,” she said, “which is probably an understatement.” “It is a really unfortunate situation that we are in at this time.

Quick guide

How do I sign up for breaking sports news alerts?

show

  • Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhones or Google Play Store on Android phones by searching for “The Guardian”.
  • If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you are using the latest version.
  • In the Guardian app, tap the yellow button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.
  • Turn on sports notifications.

Thank you for your feedback.

“I hope a decision is finally made over the weekend, whether you agree or not, it stays, and it goes. Whatever it is, it just has to be decided and hopefully it doesn’t tarnish the rest of the Australian Open.

“It’s a huge story around the world. We want the Australian Open to be for the good of things, and unfortunately not what Novak’s situation has become.”

Rafael Nadal, who will be among the favorites whether he plays Djokovic or not, said: “In my view, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. In some ways, I think it would be good if everything is cleared up soon. Everyone chooses their own path. .and I wish him all the best. I really respect him, even if I don’t agree with a lot of the things he’s done in the past two weeks.”

Leave a Comment