Djokovic’s expulsion shows that we indeed have a breaking point


Of course, he thought he would get away with it, because they almost always got away with it.

Novak Djokovic just got the timing wrong.

It’s not really a story of sports, although spectator sports give a special privilege to those who win the genetic lottery, who possess and cultivate a valuable set of motor skills, who are the best at playing games. to which we commit many empty hours. They enjoy influence on top of the other benefits of wealth and fame due to the emotional engagement of the fan.

Movie stars don’t act for you. They don’t come with a rooting interest. But our investment – ​​in teams, crests and individual players – makes athletes hard to throw away, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Antonio Brown, among his other sins, forged a vaccination certificate, both playing the system and putting others at risk. But because he can run fast and catch a football extraordinarily well, he was welcomed back by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers until he literally ripped the uniform off his back. Aaron Rogers played cute with his “vaccination” status and quotes the gospel of Joe Rogan, but you wouldn’t hear much of it if he presented the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday at the Super Bowl. Cole Beasley performs proudly unvaccinated in front of a devoted crowd at Orchard Park who must have their shots to enter the building.

And it’s just COVID, and it’s just the NFL…

Double standards? No, the same old standards. They don’t have to play by the same rules as the rest of us because they can (fill in the blank), and always have.

You sigh and express a little regret about the iniquity of it all, then surrender to cynicism. Game on. Pass the tokens.

Djokovic should have benefited from the same level of isolation. He is currently the best male tennis player in the world and might just be the best of all time. By winning the Australian Open, he would become the leader in Grand Slam victories, surpassing other stalwarts of the sport’s golden age, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. He’s been the darling of the Australian Open, dominating the tournament for the past few years and enjoying the praise, affection and recognition he so craves (to be fair, which we all crave).

Melbourne is a glorious place, especially in the summer, a diverse and laid-back beach town of beer gardens, trams and sports – the Open, the Grand Prix, the huge Melbourne cricket ground, which hosts test matches and Australian rules football.

It’s also the city in which citizens endured 262 days of draconian restrictions across six separate lockdowns between March 2020 and October 2021. No one on earth has seen worse.

Imagine how even the most tennis-loving local must have felt when Djokovic happily announced his exemption via social media, forcing the Australian government – ​​with an election on the near horizon, with a public dissatisfied with his response to the pandemic – to jump into the fray. Politically, these were easy choices, especially after the basis on which Djokovic was allowed to enter the country, a suspicious positive PCR test in December around which he clearly displayed mandatory isolation, only amplified the belief that he disregarded the rules others dutifully followed, that he was playing everyone for suckers.

In other circumstances, this kind of arrogance would probably have passed by. But not now, not after almost two years of this, not after all the suffering and sacrifice in the name of the common good.

It seems that there is indeed a breaking point.

Djokovic leaves Australia a hero and a martyr at his home in Serbia, a status amplified by that country’s history and culture, and for the anti-vaxx crowd elsewhere. But the truth is, for all the chatter, this isn’t really a particularly controversial issue. If 80% of your population is vaccinated, that’s what you call a consensus.

And the other truth is that Djokovic will be back. Before the complacency sets in, know that you can see him at Roland Garros in June, and maybe in Montreal in August (it will be an interesting discussion in this country, although by then — if he please, please — a degree of normality has returned).

Australia’s three-year ban? I bet he’s back in the Open draw in 2023, because – well, look at all of the above.

Yes, it is reassuring that there is a line that cannot be crossed, even for the rich and famous possessors of a magnificent backhand.

But don’t kid yourself about what comes next.


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