Thursday 6 January 2022

Steel balls, please

No balls game

Lawn tennis as we used to know it to differentiate it from the original racquet sport of Real tennis that Henry VIII played or the ping-pong game of Table tennis and now commonly referred to as Tennis is a game of balls and quite a few balls have been tested the past few months. I prefer racquet of French provenance and etymology to racket by the corruption of spelling and language used in North America.

Anyway, the issue here is Novak Djokovic, the number 1 ranked male tennis in the world who was granted a medical exemption by Tennis Australia to play in the Australia Open and defend his title. It was a case of no balls for that organisation to have done this when the rules required that all players at the tournament be vaccinated. [The Guardian: Appalling message’: outrage over Novak Djokovic’s medical exemption to play Australian Open]

Big balls boy

Now, Mr Djokovic to the eye is a strapping healthy 34-year-old at the peak of health and his sporting prowess, the burden of proof definitely had to be on him to show why for purely medical reasons he had to be allowed entry to Australia to compete. It appears that is the test that Mr Djokovic failed to convince the Australia Border Force of. [The Guardian: Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open hopes dashed after visa cancelled at airport]

For too long, issues with this Coronavirus pandemic have been politicised and usurped by libertarians pursuing freedom and liberty for the individual at the expense of community, the consequence of which is evident with us, the pandemic is still headline news as we enter the third year of its hold.

Just the balls

Indeed, Mr Djokovic has every right to privacy regarding his medical history, even his vaccination status should be protected for purposes of sheer confidentiality, and all that, he can exercise completely at fully at home. However, the moment you leave home and board a plane to travel abroad, there are limits to your exercise of individual rights within the scope of responsibility to others.

Imagine a scenario where the Australian Open had to be cancelled midway because of the outbreak of COVID-19 amongst any of the participants, players, officials, or teams and it was the unvaccinated or one whose vaccination status is unknown. There is form because the Adria Tour 2020 organised by Novak Djokovic was shutdown because COVID-19 protocols were not followed on the court and amongst spectators with some players and coaches testing positive for COVID-19. This was the risk Tennis Australia was ready to take.

Steel balls, please

Obviously, Novak Djokovic’s team would appeal the decision to cancel his visa and there is a diplomatic fallout about to result between Australia and Serbia, but common sense should prevail and that requires balls, steel balls at that. I believe the Australian Border Force have felt a handful of the balls of Novak Djokovic to traipse into Australia on a medical exemption called it out, we do not need Hawk-Eye to confirm that it was out as out can be.

That decision should stay, and Mr Djokovic can watch from Serbia his title go to a new champion that follows the rules and is deserving of the honour. For too long, people have used the privilege of wealth, power, or status to claim exemption from the rules and civic responsibility. We need examples to help us put this pandemic behind us, the good examples should be lauded, and the bad examples should never be rewarded. Put that diva on a plane and send him home.

Change that call from ‘New balls, please’ to ‘Steel balls, please’.

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