The Novak Djokovic scandal should never have happened

Contributed 

The Novak Djokovic saga has been an embarrassment. The spectacle of a tennis star landing in Australia and the day in day out, will he stay or won’t he stay saga should not have taken place. That it did, told the world that double standards operate in Australia.

The same rule should apply to everyone. It should make no difference when someone has a high media profile or there is a lot of money involved. The handling of Djokovic has proved that this isn’t the case.

Tennis Australia went ahead and prepared for his coming, even though it knew that their key player had failed to meet the conditions to set foot in Australia. They spent money on it. All they thought about is bringing in more money.

Our prime minister should’ve stepped in firmly. He didn’t. It seems that at first, he wanted to make Djokovic an exception, but when public opinion turned away, made pronouncements about no exemptions, and did little. No doubt the rise of infections and the backlash over testing kits for sale at a high price contributed to the discomfort of the Morrison government. Morrison needed good press, and this was an opportunity to blame Victoria’s Andrews government.

Andrews left no doubt how he felt October, when he gave Djokovic the message “get vaccinated or stay home”. He didn’t stick to this, which suggests the extent of the pressure on Djokovic’s side. The reality is that the commonwealth controls who crosses Australia’s borders from overseas, not the states. Australia’s border security allowed Djokovic entry. He was allowed to stay, even after it was revealed he had tested positive on 16 December and admitted that information in his application that he had not travelled overseas to the two weeks before and isolated was wrong. Nor had he met the double vaccination condition.

At the end of the day, the Federal Court put an end tot the legal challenges by denying the appeal against cancelling his visa.

Novak Djokovic at Tullamarine Airport and leaving Australia

Any of these beaches by anyone not rich and famous would have caused their immediate deportation. Fair minded people would expect everyone to be treated the same.

Tennis Australia, salivating from their expectation of the dollars the world’s number one player would bring, was only too happy to turn a blind eye. Winning would have given Djokovic the number of grand slam wins to get the world record. Tennis Australia’s rising over health considerations puts a considerable amount of the responsibility for what happened on its shoulders.

The big issue is not Djokovic. It is the corrupting influence of big money on elite tennis. Surely, the health of the Australian population should come first.

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