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In the Line of Fire, with Michael Brown
Monday, January 17, 2022
Djokovic Decision: Government Overreach or 'Overwhelming Risk' Elimination?

Novak Djokovic stands with Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley for a trophy photo shoot following his win the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, in February 2021. (Charisma News Archives)

On Sunday afternoon, Sydney time, the Australian courts backed the Australian government's decision to deport tennis icon Novak Djokovic in the interest of public safety. And so, the current top-ranked player, possibly the greatest of all time, would not be allowed to play at his favorite Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open.

Djokovic, as an unvaccinated player known for advocating personal choice when it came to vaccinations, was not welcome.

This ended almost two weeks of international drama, where Djokovic was first granted a medical exemption by the tennis association, based on his testing positive for COVID in December, only to learn that the federal government did not accept the exemption when he arrived in the country.

From there, he was detained overnight at the airport, then sent to an immigration hotel (not five-star!) while his appeal was heard, at which point a judge ruled in his favor, saying that proper procedure had not been followed.

By this point, the prime ministers of both Australia and Serbia (Djokovic's home country) were openly and vocally involved, with Djokovic's father likening his son's treatment to the crucifixion of Jesus.

As for opinion within Australia, Djokovic had become persona non grata in the eyes of many, the image of a rich, privileged athlete making up his own rules while the nation itself had sacrificed so much in the interest of health and safety.

For others, Djokovic was the image of integrity and conviction, refusing to bow down to government overreach and putting his legacy on the line rather than capitulating to tyranny.

In the end, the government's primary argument was not that there was a risk that Djokovic could infect others with the virus.

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