Yet again, the major sports set out to prove that the rules don’t apply to the moneymakers — even when the rules are in the interest of public health and ending an ongoing pandemic. Twenty-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic will be allowed to play in the Australian Open after receiving a medical exemption from the tournament’s vaccine requirement. In a statement, Australian Open officials claimed that the exemption was “granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.” The expert panel, they wrote, was “made up of doctors from the fields of immunology, infectious disease, and general practice.”
Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open a record nine times, had previously declined to reveal his vaccination status. (Side note: have we had a vaccinated athlete “decline to reveal their vaccination status” yet? Don’t believe so.) Per the Australian Open, he would have either needed to have contracted COVID within the last six months or needed to present an “acute major medical condition” to receive a medical exemption, which essentially tells us that Novak Djokovic — unless he’s hiding some sort of major medical condition from the public that prevents him from getting vaccinated but allows him to play a Grand Slam — was exempted for the sole reason of his being Novak Djokovic.
In the same way that Aaron Rodgers faced zero consequences about lying to the press and not following NFL mandates for unvaccinated players, or in the way that Antonio Brown’s fake vaccination card was swept under the rug after a quick suspension, the sports world shows us yet again it doesn’t matter if you’re putting yourself and others at risk as long as you’re good! If you can win, who cares about life-saving vaccines? You’re bringing in money! No matter that the death rate of unvaccinated COVID patients is significantly higher than that of those who are vaccinated. Don’t let it slip by you that if he wins, he’ll be breaking a three-way tie for the record for Grand Slam wins, which would be an enormous ratings boost.
In an Instagram post, Djokovic wrote that he was “heading Down Under” after wishing everyone “health, love, and happiness” and writing, “may you all feel love & respect toward all beings on this planet.” A touch ironic, don’t you think? He’ll no doubt be facing a tough crowd in Melbourne later this month. Djokovic previously contracted COVID in June of 2020 after playing in a series of exhibition matches that he himself organized that did not include any social distancing for players or fans. Shocker.