By Zac Cornell
By now the whole world knows that tennis super-star Novak Djokovic has refused to get vaccinated from Covid, which has led to his deportation from Australia and prevented him from defending his title in this year’s Australian Open. After some back and forth over his visa, three judges had unanimously rejected Djokovic’s appeal to stay in Australia despite not being vaccinated. Australia has been one of the most restrictive countries over the course of the Covid pandemic and has mandatory vaccination rules for entry into the country.
Today, the three judges revealed their reasoning for rejecting Djokovic’s entrance into the country, saying they agreed with Immigraion Minister Alex Hawke’s concerns that the Serbian tennis star’s rejection of the Covid vaccine could negatively influence the Australian general public by promoting anti-vax sentiment which could lead to protests and the spread of Covid among the Australian public.
The judges said Djokovic’s status as a tennis star could have an overpowering influence on the opinions of people who are unsure whether or not to get the Covid vaccine, saying in their ruling “An iconic world tennis star may influence people of all ages, young or old, but perhaps especially the young and the impressionable, to emulate him. This is not fanciful; it does not need evidence.”In today’s society, athletes are powerful influencers and although they are not experts in every field, are often looked up to by fans who assume they have access to the best information, health or otherwise.
As of now, it seems that Djokovic may be able to participate in the French Open despite being unvaxxed. The latest law in France states that anyone who can prove that they tested positive within six months is exempt from a vaccine pass. With Roland Garros scheduled for May and June, Djokovic will be covered as he tested positive for Covid in December. Nothing has been formally decided yet, and the rules could change between now and May.