Djokovic, sports leaders put themselves above common good


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Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia due to his being unvaccinated, meaning he would not be able to defend his 2021 Australian Open Title. Djokovic is just one of a select group of super athletes who are unvaccinated and use their platforms to disseminate harmful information.

Sayan Sonnad-Joshi

The start of the tennis season in Australia is usually full of excitement and optimism, with the Australian Open even nicknamed the “Happy Slam” due to the positive energy on the tournament grounds. However, this year’s tournament has been marred by world number one Novak Djokovic’s visa saga.

On Sunday, Jan. 16, after a weeklong fight with Djokovic, Australian authorities made the decision to revoke his visa a second time after he violated the country’s Covid-19 policies. Although the Australian government and tennis officials aren’t without blame, this is a significant, self-inflicted crisis for Djokovic which could easily have been avoided.

The 34-year-old Djokovic, who is the reigning Australian Open champion, could easily have defended his title this year by getting a safe, highly effective and scientifically proven vaccine which would protect him and others from Covid-19. However, he made a spectacle by refusing to get the vaccine, highlighting his selfishness and willingness to create chaos rather than get a shot.

By doing so, Djokovic has cemented his membership as a part of the pandemic’s most exclusive and infamous group: the anti-vax millionaire athlete who believes their fame, wealth and influence puts them above science in making their own decisions which harm the general public. Djokovic is joined in this group by NFL star Aaron Rodgers and NBA star Kyrie Irving, both of whom have also refused to get vaccinated, with Rodgers repeatedly making misleading statements about his vaccine status in order to get people to believe he was vaccinated when in reality he wasn’t.

Each of these athletes have an enormous reach and millions of followers on their social media, and instead of using the platform they have been given for good, they have chosen to not get vaccinated and disseminate dangerous pseudoscience which creates chaos and is harmful to public safety.

These superathlete voices send the message that they owe nothing and are above the common good because they create so much and have acquired stardom. In turn, they act without thinking and carry themselves as though they are separate from the common struggle. While millions around the world sacrifice for the greater good through the difficult steps of vaccine mandates, these athletes simply ignore these steps and unfairly think themselves above the law.

One side effect that comes with being a professional athlete, especially a notable one, is that they often become a role model for others, especially younger generations. Thus, everything they say or do is seen and emulated by millions around the globe. This becomes harmful when they spread anti-vax and other pseudoscientific messages on their social media because people will follow what they say.

Djokovic has already become a figurehead for the anti-vax movement in Australia and abroad, with many anti-vaxxers using Djokovic as an example to justify their refusal to get vaccinated. Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cited this as his reason for deporting Djokovic, stating that it was “in public interest to do so.” Along with Djokovic, Rodgers, Irving and many other athletes have also become figureheads for the anti-vax movement and have influenced millions on whether or not to get vaccinated. As role models, these athletes have the responsibility to help guide younger generations into making the right choices, but instead are being selfish and prioritizing themselves over the wellbeing of millions.

It is easy, in this situation, to focus only on Djokovic. While criticism of him is appropriate, his actions highlight a bigger issue that we are facing today: anti-vax multi millionaire athletes who put themselves over the common good. These athletes, though they may seem harmless, pose a significant threat to public safety through the messages they spread and are failing the younger generations by doing so.