“Outrageous kick in the teeth to all Australians who’ve endured such draconian restrictions for so long. Rewarding an anti-vaxx loon like this sends a terrible message.”
The world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic has sparked fury, outrage etc among residents of the most locked down city in the world after he was given a vaccine exemption to compete at this month’s Australian Open in Melbourne.
Brit polemicist Piers Morgan tweeted, “Outrageous kick in the teeth to all Australians who’ve endured such draconian restrictions for so long. Rewarding an anti-vaxx loon like this sends a terrible message.”
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Australian football star Corey McKernan tweeted, “People with loved ones who are dying / some needing urgent treatment cannot get into their own states. You tell people they can’t go to Coles or a cafe without being vaxxed but if you’re world number 1 you get a pass? F***ing disgrace.”
The good people of that once-bustling city lived, barely, through six lockdowns totalling 262 days after COVID kicked off worldwide in March 2020.
It wasn’t a breezy sorta deal either, local cops ate up the chance to kick hell out of anyone who didn’t affix their paper mask correctly.
REPORT: Angry cop slams a man to the ground. Could have killed him. – Flinders Street Railway Station. Australia. pic.twitter.com/I1nc1O2nJg
— New Granada (@NewGranada1979) September 22, 2021
Anyway, exemptions can be given for reasons such as anaphylactic response to the COVID vaccine, a poor response to vaccination or having had Covid in the last six months.
Serbian Djokovic told fellow Serbian athletes on a Facebook chat a year ago, “Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel…”
Earlier this year, Kelly Slater was slammed by the Australian press when he launched multiple fronts in the online vaccine war and claimed friends had “literally” been killed by vaccines, although this would later be amended to “horrible reactions”.
Slater’s vax hesitancy, scepticism, whatever it is, previously meant he’d be shut out from competing on this year’s Australian leg of the tour, which encompasses Bells Beach and Margaret River.
Only two months ago, The Guardian opined that the country’s ultra-strict vaccination requirements would not be loosened even for superstar tennis players like Novak Djokovic. Not even for the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater.
Slater’s predicament underscores a looming dilemma for international sporting competitions. While Australia’s long-closed borders are now slowly reopening, the blanket ban on foreign arrivals is being replaced by vaccination requirements that are stringent by international standards. In sports notable for their globe-trotting – including tennis, golf, road cycling, Formula One, surfing and cricket – Australia’s entry requirements make being unvaccinated a significant competitive liability. Across a season of fine margins, sitting out one of the four Grand Slams, a Grand Prix or two WSL legs is unthinkable. Or is it?
The Djokovic decision opens the door to the greatest of all time to give Australians one more taste of his divine act, flying out on sheer bazaaz, his fans twitching like laboratory rabbits with electrodes planted in the brain.