Food for Thought: Djokovic is not the sort of role model we need right now

By Tom Marland

It is hard not to miss the current circus that is surrounding Novak Djokovic and his “battle” with the Australian Government to force entry to Australia on an alleged “covid exemption”.

Djokovic was detained on 4 January at Melbourne Airport on the basis he did not provide proof of vaccination or proof of a founded medical condition.

His visa was later cancelled.

He won an injunction against the cancellation of his visa by the Federal Court last week.

His lawyers claim that he had a vaccine exemption because he had recently recovered from the virus.

Novak has claimed that on 16 December he tested positive to Covid -19.

But on the 17 December was seen attending a ceremony at the Novak Tennis Center in Belgrade

While there has been much celebration by his supporters and condemnation of his treatment, Novax has not yet obtained a visa to enter Australia and in fact he could be jailed or banned for three years if it is proved that he falsified documents or falsely completed visa application forms.

In the words of Justice Anthony Kelly of the Federal Court who granted the injunction against his deportation – “the stakes have now risen rather than receded”.

The Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, now has the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa on the grounds of “public health” or in “the public interest”.

The political stakes have escalated to the point where this whole convoluted process may define the Federal Government’s entire legacy on its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Novak is a well-known “anti-vaxxer” and has actually been labelled as “Novax” by anti-vax conspiracy theorists.

He is able to share his views with the world as he is good at hitting tennis balls over a net multiple times.

I am unsure of his virology expertise.

In April 2020, Novax said he was “opposed to vaccination” and “would not be forced to be vaccinated to travel the world”.

He added that he was “curious about wellbeing and how we can empower our metabolism to be in the best shape to defend against imposters like Covid-19”.

Novax later organized a tennis tournament in Zadar, Croatia in the midst of the pandemic in an attempt to prove that the world can continue to function normally in the face of Covid-19.

He was later forced to apologise after many of the participants tested positive, including himself.

Novax defended his actions by saying “nobody died”.

Novax has a bit of a history of spreading misinformation.

In 2010, he met with a nutritionist who asked him to hold a piece of bread in his left hand while he pressed down on his right arm.

Novax claimed he was much weaker while holding the bread and cited this as evidence of gluten intolerance.

In an Instagram live interview, he claimed that positive thought could “cleanse” polluted water adding that “scientists have proven that molecules in water react to our emotions”.

Sort of like turning water into wine.

Early in the pandemic, Djokovic’s wife repeated a 5G conspiracy theory on Instagram – her post was given a misinformation label by the social network and later removed.

While he’s been defended by fans and Serbian politicians, the Djokovic visa dispute has really galvanised anti-vaccination activists at a time when the rest of world is dealing with the fifth wave of Covid-19.

It is correct that Novax poses little threat to Australians who are already dealing with the spread of the Omicron variant – 90 percent of us are already vaccinated.

But it will be a slap in the face to every Australian and every business owner who has endured two years of restrictions and who have rolled their sleeves up and done the right thing – if this goose gets a golden ticket by finding a loophole in the process.

The simple solution for Novax is to get the vaccination like the rest of us and he can hit as many tennis balls in Australia as he likes.