There was a lovely little essay in The Washington Post on Friday about how if Novak Djokovic, the best men’s tennis player in the world, can’t play the Australian Open, it’s his own darn fault. Not because he choked or forfeited in some way, but because he hasn’t gotten a COVID shot and must be punished for this cardinal sin.
“Unlike 97 percent of his peers on the men’s tennis tour, Djokovic refuses to be vaccinated because he is in thrall to wacky New Age ideas about health. But he tried to game the system so that he could play the Australian Open anyway. He claimed to be eligible for an exemption from the vaccination requirement because he had tested positive for the coronavirus on Dec. 16. How convenient. Was he planning to skip the Australian Open if he didn’t catch a potentially deadly disease the month before?” snarked Max Boot.
Network anchors such as MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin have referred to Djokovic as one of “these anti-vaxx sports stars who think the rules somehow don’t apply to them,” and other trolls have also jumped in the ring, such as Bulwark editor Bill Kristol, who snidely reminded his followers on Twitter that getting vaccinated is the “adult” and “civilized” thing to do.
Boot went on to speculate about whether the tennis star’s positive test was even legitimate and pontificate that, if it was, Djokovic “recklessly endangered” others by fraternizing with them as a mild variant of an endemic virus sweeps the globe.
There were other complications, of course, such as a travel exemption, followed by a revoked visa, “procedural irregularities” that resulted in release from his refugee hotel purgatory, another visa cancellation, and an error on his immigration paper that was either a lie or an honest mistake, depending whom you ask.
Ultimately, however, the primary argument from Boot, Kristol, and others who would cheer the star’s deportation isn’t one of legal significance nor concern for immigration protocols. The main contention is that Djokovic transgressed by not falling in line with the left’s “pandemic requirements” and the “rules” of COVID morality as dictated by the coercive ruling class.
“If Djokovic wants to continue playing tennis, he needs to get vaccinated — and to stop trying to circumvent the pandemic requirements that apply to everyone else,” Boot said with the self-serious authority of a fifth-grade hall monitor. “He needs to decide if he is going to be the No. 1 men’s tennis player in the world or the No. 1 anti-vaxxer. He can’t be both. Djokovic may be the most skilled men’s player in tennis history, but his covid misconduct shows that true greatness still eludes him.”
There you have it. Djokovic shouldn’t be punished because he might have lied on a government document. He should be punished because his private medical decisions don’t live up to the COVID Code of Moral Conduct. According to the left’s scolds, the only way to achieve greatness, in tennis as in life, is to comply with their preferred policy prescriptions.
There’s one more layer to this that’s worth probing, which is that Djokovic’s detractors are not only rooting against him; they’re cheering in support of the Australian government to deport him.
And on that level, this is more than a debate about who should be allowed to play sports or what the punishments should be for an individual lying about his COVID diagnosis. It’s beyond whether vaccines are effective and how far one person or group of people can go to force another person or group of people to inject themselves with a substance against their will. While these are all valid debates, this Djokovic dust-up brings into focus something that’s somehow a little nastier.
Amid a mild wave of an endemic virus, which even premier health “expert” Anthony Fauci has admitted will infect “just about everybody,” you can pick only one of what boils down to two sides in the Djokovic debate. One side recognizes bodily autonomy and doesn’t care what one tennis star thinks about vaccination because he’s athletic and healthy and independent, and it’s none of their business.
The other side is cheering on an authoritarian regime that’s imprisoned people it considers COVID risks and forced them into isolation in state-sanctioned quarantine camps, locked down its citizens in their homes and prevented them from even going to work, and sicced the police on its people, arresting those who don’t fall in line with the health “experts.”
The left’s talking heads are free to bloviate about “civilized society,” “pandemic requirements that apply to everyone,” and what it means to be a morally responsible “adult,” but it’s safe to say that when your side resorts to cheering on authoritarians, you’re probably not the hero.