Clear announcements to surf superstar
Australia dreads new “Dokovic case”
01/20/2022, 09:40 am
In the “Djokovic case” that has just ended, the Australian government has made it unmistakably clear that it does not want the unvaccinated tennis professional in the country. The struggle for the entry of the superstar causes trouble for a long time. The government definitely wants to avoid something like this in the future.
The Australian government has just prevented the unvaccinated tennis pro Novak Djokovic from entering the country in a long process that damages all parties, when the next discussion about a world star of the sport is already looming: surfing pro Kelly Slater, one of his most popular figures for decades Sports, would actually like to compete with the best surfers in the world in Australia in March for points towards the World Surf League. But the American remains a secret about his vaccination status – and has previously expressed some controversial views on the Covid vaccine, including an Instagram comment in October claiming he “knows more about how to be healthy, than 99% of doctors”. The Tour veteran, who has no medical qualifications, has previously said he is not opposed to vaccinations but is opposed to mandatory vaccinations.
This apparently makes Australian government officials so nervous about the “Djokovic case” that they send out clear messages months before the events. “I think that in the case of Novak Djokovic we said quite clearly: no vaccination, no game,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told Australian TV Channel 9. “It’s a pretty simple message, no matter what the sport, we are impartial. I hope Slater is getting vaccinated and I hope he competes.”
As a reminder: Djokovic had traveled to Australia with a visa, the visa was only canceled upon entry. The medical exemption presented by Djokovic was not enough to meet the strict entry requirements “Down Under”. The state of Victoria, in which the Australian Open is held, had granted Djokovic the controversial visa, and it was no longer valid before the state authorities. “Any person wishing to enter Australia must comply with our strict border regulations,” said Home Secretary Karen Andrews. While the state government of Victoria and Tennis Australia could allow an unvaccinated player to enter the tournament, the border rules would be overseen by the national government.
“The rules apply to everyone”
A bitter struggle ensued, they ended up in front of a judge twice, and the cause escalated in such a way that the heads of government of Serbia and Australia regularly commented on the current state of affairs. In the end, Djokovic was expelled and there were serious diplomatic upheavals. Slater commented on the procedure that “perhaps the Stockholm syndrome can now be renamed the Melbourne/Australia syndrome”. The eleven-time world champion sees “so much brainwashed hatred in people’s hearts, regardless of vaccination status.”
Victoria State Prime Minister Daniel Andrews hopes Djokovic history will not repeat itself. “It’s important for the government to be clear about who gets into the tournament and who doesn’t,” said Andrews. However, he thinks it is very unlikely that the government will start talks with the World Surf League about possible exemptions for unvaccinated athletes after the Djokovic disaster. You want “no drama, no soap opera”.
While the World Surf League doesn’t mandate vaccinations for its surfers, its Asia-Pacific chief executive, Andrew Stark, told Australian newspapers The Herald and The Age that “we follow the entry guidelines of the government of each country that… we visit for our events will strictly follow”. “We encourage anyone who is able to get vaccinated and have advised everyone associated with WSL that unvaccinated individuals can encounter significant problems traveling around the world and preventing them from entering the country could be banned in certain countries,” Stark said.
As early as Wednesday, the Federal Minister for Sport, Richard Colbeck, said that Slater had “no chance of coming into the country” if he was not vaccinated. “I assume he knows the rules,” Colbeck told the Nine newspaper. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a surfer, a tennis player, a tourist or anyone else, those are the rules. They apply to everyone.”