Novak Djokovic is without question one of the greatest tennis players of our generation. Nevertheless, he is often branded as a villain of the sport due to his racket-smashing shenanigans and his willingness to challenge the level-headed, gentlemanly mold of a tennis player with his intense competitiveness. But the villain might now be the hero in a greater cause after his stand against the Australian government.
Ahead of the Australian Open, the first leg of the tennis Grand Slam that is set to be held in January, Australian Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke said that anyone wishing to enter the country, not just tennis players, must be “double vaccinated” to cross their border.
Djokovic fired back at the command with the same force as one of his serves, telling local Serbian media that:
I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry … People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person. Whatever you say -- ‘Yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it,’ they will take advantage.
It appears that Djokovic having a spine and standing up to the bullies in the Australian government paid off. Yesterday, Tennis Australia, the governing body for Tennis in the country, announced that unvaccinated players will be allowed to participate in the tournament as long as they undergo a two-week quarantine period beforehand (this course of action goes against their original plan to have all tennis players vaccinated).
Djokovic’s convicted stance against tyranny is without a doubt a major victory for unvaccinated players and it is what likely forced Tennis Australia to change course (after all, how could they afford to forgo the millions they would lose in revenue if Djokovic refused to join the tournament?). But it also speaks to a more important lesson about just how easy it can be stand up to bullies and tyrants.
All Djokovic said was he wouldn’t disclose his vaccination status, even after the Australian government tried to intimidate and threaten him. After the Serbian tennis star stayed true to his conviction, the tyrants backed down and changed their stance on the situation.
It only takes courage, even in the face of fear, to turn the tide of a crisis of freedom. We’ve seen it in tennis, and hopefully we’ll see it elsewhere too.
Maybe even in our own borders …