YESTERDAY, to his lasting shame, the 2022 Australian Open tennis tournament director Craig Tiley announced that unvaccinated players are not going to be allowed to compete. Coming less than a month after Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said those who were unvaccinated would be allowed to enter Australia and play, it shows who’s really ruling the roost. It was always going to depend, Morrison weakly said, on the State of Victoria, where the tournament takes place, applying for exemptions. No one should have been under any illusion that Victoria’s tinpot dictator, Dan Andrews would agree to that.
He didn’t, of course, and there does not seem to have been any pushback from the ATP, the organisation representing male players, despite Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic rightly refusing to make his vaccination status public. If he stands by his clearly expressed principles, I think we can take it he won’t be defending his title.
Last week at the season-ending ATP Tour finals in Turin, the world No 1 spoke out: ‘The freedom of choice is essential for everyone, not just whether it’s me or somebody else, it doesn’t really matter. . . Whether it’s vaccination or anything else in life, you should have the freedom to choose, to decide what you want to do in this particular case, what you want to put in your body.’
The unpleasant Benoit Paire, by contrast, has welcomed the exclusion of 20 per cent or more of unvaccinated players as working to his advantage while Rafael Nadal has accused unvaccinated players of being selfish. Really? Isn’t it far easier to unthinkingly comply to keep playing than to risk your career?
What of the reported 20 per cent of tennis players who have withstood the threats and the bullying to date? Will they take this lying down. The 2020 Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev has already expressed his surprise at the no-exemption decision.
Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash put his head above the parapet in an exclusive interview with TCW Defending Freedom last August. He said he was sick of the lies. Talking about the terrible impact of lockdown on his profession and the players, he condemned the pressure on players to vaccinate (some of the healthiest and fittest people in the world); of the absence of full unbiased information on efficacy and risk; of his own message to all players on the tour intended to rectify that and, finally, of his despair for his country of birth, Australia, and fears for freedom everywhere.
You can watch the interview here: