Novak: A sport and moral victory in the face of tyrann

The following from Spectator

I am normally patriotic about sport, but when Novak Djokovic handed Australian Alex de Minaur his arse in the fourth round at the Australian Open, I had to laugh. When Djokovic was asked why he thrashed de Minaur in brutal straight sets (6-2 6-1 6-2), Djokovic replied, ‘Because I wanted to.’

While Djokovic tempered his comment with references to the fast pace of tennis, others wondered if the victory might have something to do with the run-in the pair had over Covid vaccines. According to reports, de Minaur laughed when Djokovic was deported in 2022, preventing the Australian Open’s greatest star from defending his title (not to mention his points).

‘I respect him as a rival, a colleague, as I respect everyone. I have no problem contacting him, congratulating him, etc. But I don’t have any other relationship. I don’t have any communication with him. He showed in 2022 what he thinks about me.’ – Novak Djokovic

Ouch.

A defeated de Minaur looked as though he got what he deserved after the loss and, even though I have followed his career from the start and cheered him on through countless tournaments, as a member of the persecuted unvaccinated class, I felt a certain amount of satisfaction.

Like almost everyone else who got vaccinated, de Minaur picked up Covid and had to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics. So much for ‘stopping the spread’.

Vaccine deity and eco-champion Bill Gates flew in on his (Net Zero?) private jet just in time to watch the defiant Djokovic win his tenth Australian Open title leaving many to proclaim the Serbian as the greatest tennis player of all time.

In extraordinary scenes, Djokovic dispatched with Stefanos Tsitsipas in a thrilling straight sets final (6-3 7-6 7-6) that took nearly three hours.

Rod Laver Arena, and the grounds outside, exploded in cheers as Novak Djokovic reclaimed a trophy that has his name written on it so many times he might as well take it home.

He didn’t only win the Australian Open, his victory sets him level with Rafael Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam trophies – blurring the line between the biggest figures in tennis. Tsitsipas graciously hailed his opponent as ‘the greatest player ever to hold a racket’.

A crowd full of ‘novax’ signs confused TV commentators as they were raised alongside a sea of Serbian flags. Djokovic, meanwhile, climbed up into the stands and then collapsed into the arms of his team. It was clear that this was a victory over more than tennis. Djokovic had defeated the tyrannical authorities and bureaucracies that fought to keep him away from his tennis crown.

It is embarrassing to remember how Australia treated Novak Djokovic.

If anyone needs proof that the vaccine requirements were nothing but political nonsense, look no further than this year’s announcement that Covid positive players were allowed on court. ‘The Science’ tells us that Djokovic never posed a health risk to the Australian Open – he posed a political risk to both the local Victorian Labor government and the Federal Liberal government – both of which seemed happy to collude (or at least sympathise) on methods to detain and deport the Serbian star.

Remember when Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said of Novak?

‘Those titles [Grand Slams] won’t protect you either, the only titles that’ll protect you is that you are able to say that you have had your first dose and you have had your second dose.’

Former Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg disgracefully said:

‘I make no apologies for the application of the rules here in Australia around our border protection policies that have helped keep us safe. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the No. 1 tennis player in the world or Betty from Utah, if you’re unvaccinated, the same rules apply.’

He owes the unvaccinated an apology. A grovelling one. As does former Prime Minister Scott Morrison for this tweet on Jan 6, 2022.

‘Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from Covid, we are continuing to be vigilant.’

How does that work, Mr Morrison, when vaccines have no impact on transmission? Any comments? Updates? Want to discuss the largest rise in unexplained deaths in Australian history? No?

Liberal Alex Hawke was probably the worst, not only because he was the person who cancelled Novak’s visa, but because he further accused him of potentially causing ‘civil unrest’ and describing him as a ‘talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment’.

‘I consider that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest of the kind previously experienced in Australia with rallies and protests which may themselves be a source of community transmission. Mr Djokovic is … a person of influence and status.

‘Having regard to … Mr Djokovic’s conduct after receiving a positive Covid result, his publicly stated views, as well as his unvaccinated status, I consider that his ongoing presence in Australia may encourage other people to disregard or act inconsistently with public health advice and policies in Australia.’

At least Hawke will be consigned to the impenetrable swamp of political history, little more than a curious footnote in the Age of Covid Idiocy – a shameful patch of algae that forever tarnished the word ‘Liberal’.

As Nadal and Federer repeatedly lined up for selfies and promotional tournaments with Bill Gates, my former love for the pair soured. Only one tennis star was prepared to publicly fight for the absolute right of body autonomy.

Novak Djokovic was detained for five nights ahead of the 2022 Australian Open. He said of the event, ‘I will never forget.’

In a statement before the 2023 tournament, Djokovic added:

‘What happened to me 12 months ago was not easy for me or my family or team. It was disappointing to leave the country like that but I was really hoping to get permission to play back in Australia. It’s a country where I have had tremendous support. I have always played my best tennis here.

‘Melbourne is close to my heart. What happened was not easy for me to digest, but I had to move on and those circumstances will not replace what I have had in Melbourne and Australia. So I come in with positive emotions.’

Novak was treated like a criminal, deported, and denied the chance to defend his points. Like so many of us, Covid bigotry and fear-mongering saw him robbed of his employment. His win was not only for himself – it is a win for everyone: the persecuted, the coerced, and the concerned. It gives us hope that in the end, the universe corrects the balance.

Earlier, he sat by the court, face in his towel, sobbing.

He finished the night with an inspiring speech:

‘The message really for any young tennis player around the world who is watching this now and dreaming to be here where Stefanos and I am: dream big – dare to dream because everything is possible. Don’t let anybody take away the dream. Doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. I actually think that the more disadvantaged childhood you have, the more difficulties you have and the more challenges – the stronger you become. Stefanos and I are the proof of that.

‘Don’t let anyone take away that dream from you. Nurture it. Water it like you water the flowers. Even if you find only one person in this world that will accept, embrace, and support your dreams. Find that person and dream big because you can make it.

‘What a journey it has been for my family, my team, and myself. I don’t know where to start and where to finish. I don’t take anything for granted […] I appreciate the patience and love you are giving me.’

He then added, to his team: ‘This trophy is yours, as much as it is mine.’

And although the comments were directed to his friends and family, the whole stadium went up in roars of adoration before they started chanting his name.

‘I have to say that this has been one of the most challenging tournaments I have ever played in my life, considering the circumstances. Not playing last year, coming back this year. I want to thank all the people that made me feel welcome – made me feel comfortable to be in Melbourne and Australia.

‘There’s a reason why I have played my best tennis throughout my career in Australia and on this court in front of legendary Rod Laver – thank you so much for being present tonight, sir. I tried to pinch myself and really live through this moment. […] I’d say this is probably the biggest victory in my life, considering the circumstances.’

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