by Park MacDougald
Friday, 26
August 2022
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Novak Djokovic’s vaccine ban is a disgrace to American sport

The tennis great is a victim of pandemic-era stupidity
by Park MacDougald
See ya Novak (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

The greatest tennis player of all time, Novak Djokovic, is once again being victimised by pandemic-era stupidity.

On Thursday, news broke that Djokovic would not be allowed to compete in this year’s US Open, a tournament he has won three times and in which he would likely be the favourite if he were allowed to play. The reason, of course, is the same one that led him to be deported from Australia this January just before the start of the Australian Open — Djokovic is unvaccinated, and therefore is not allowed to enter the United States, despite having natural immunity from two prior Covid infections.

It’s hard to overstate the pointlessness of US policy here. Djokovic freely competed in the 2021 US Open last August and September, when vaccines were already widely available. At that time, the CDC was still refusing to acknowledge natural immunity, fans had to display proof of vaccination to attend the tournament, and over 1,000 Americans were dying every day with the virus. Today, the CDC’s Covid prevention recommendations “no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status” due to breakthrough infections and natural immunity, the tournament has dropped its vaccine mandate for fans and daily deaths are under 500 nationwide. To make matters even more absurd, the US does not require illegal immigrants to be vaccinated to enter the country, and it does not demand they be vaccinated once they are in.

About the only rationale that Djokovic’s critics can come up with is that it’s his choice not to follow the rules like everyone else, which is true. But demanding that people follow arbitrary rules, just because they are the rules, breeds contempt for the rules and those who make and enforce them. “Because I said so” might be a good enough explanation for a recalcitrant toddler, but it is no way to govern a nominally free country. And it is a shame for tennis fans that these considerations, rather than on-court performance, are likely to decide the outcome of one of the greatest competitions in sport, the all-time Grand Slam race between Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

wrote in January that the Australian government’s decision to deport Djokovic was political theatre that served no public health rationale. Australia then dropped all vaccine entry requirements for foreign travellers five months after sending the Serb packing. But at least the Australians had some rationale. At the time, they were still clinging to their “zero-Covid” strategy amid the rising Omicron wave, and the government of PM Scott Morrison feared the wrath of citizens who had been subjected to some of the most draconian mitigation policies in the Western world.

The US entry ban on unvaccinated travellers, by contrast, is purely a zombie policy, one that reflects neither current CDC guidance nor the reality of life in America outside elite college campuses. There is no constituency for refusing Djokovic entry — relatively few Americans even watch tennis. There is only the inertia of an administration that has given up on enforcing virtually any Covid measures and yet, having previously aligned itself with the most hysterical voices in the public health establishment, is incapable of declaring the pandemic over and moving on.

The American tennis legend John McEnroe recently described the situation as “a joke”. For once, the usually foul-mouthed player was being too kind.

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R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago

“the US does not require illegal immigrants to be vaccinated to enter the country, and it does not demand they be vaccinated once they are in.”
This is kafkaesque

RJ LeMaster
RJ LeMaster
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

I agree, I can only hope that the execrable Nadal is too injured to play as well. Nice to know that the CDC, like the rest of Liberal government, remains out of touch and – what’s the word? – f*cking stupid.

Valley Forge
Valley Forge
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

Perhaps Djokovic can walk in and claim asylum and get bussed to the tournament by Texas.

Marcita Nellostipite
Marcita Nellostipite
1 month ago

Sports aside, there are thousands of US citizens whose families comprise non-US citizens. Myself and my family are not vaccinated, by choice. My husband cannot come to visit his children, or help with property maintenance, travel, etc. in the US, as he has been doing for many years now. Yet I can visit his country any time (an EU country). The poisonous disgust we feel for the current administration is immeasurable. I can abide a degree of evil, but when combined with sheer stupidity, no.

Benjamin Holm
Benjamin Holm
1 month ago

It is a joke. I won’t watch the tournament because of it and I am a tennis fan. That’s the only recourse, don’t watch and make your voice heard. They may not listen but maybe they will.

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 month ago
Reply to  Benjamin Holm

The only choice is in November when the elections will allow the new version of the Nuremberg Trials to begin gathering data as I recon the Bio/Pharma/Medical Industrial Complex, and all their captured Political and Commercial lackeys, are responsible for many millions of deaths, Billions dropping down a level in income, and the global economy to soon crash.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago

We have reached a tipping point in the West, where “1984” is now our playbook.

Sam Dunston
Sam Dunston
1 month ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Even Orwell’s novel didn’t reach the level of tyranny of this regime.

Sam Dunston
Sam Dunston
1 month ago

“All tyrannies rule through fraud and force but when fraud has been exposed, they must rely exclusively on force.” Orwell

Eric Simpson
Eric Simpson
1 month ago

I will NOT watch one match. It is only an attempt to keep Mr. Djokovic from winning the tournament and from accumulating the most Grand Slams. It is VERY IMPORTANT for every one NOT to watch a Single match and definitely to NOT attend. Put your Money and Time where your Belief’s and Heart are.

Phillip Kelley
Phillip Kelley
1 month ago

Such hypocrisy! I won’t watch the tournament either. Might watch the final for a bit but this is absurd, unfair, un-american. Good luck Novak down the road be strong.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago

If this seems irrational, and it is, the CDC got this nonsense rolling in the first place.

Sam Dunston
Sam Dunston
1 month ago

This is a U.S. Government policy (spelled Biden Administration), and the tournament is hiding behind the government. It is an assault against society, among the many crimes this illegitimate regime has inflicted on its citizens since seizing rule.

Burton Tallen
Burton Tallen
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam Dunston

Spare me the pearl clutching, he just needs to get a shot to play. What a fool. Total comedy.

jack brandt
jack brandt
1 month ago
Reply to  Burton Tallen

No, he would be forced to inject an unproven substance that has potentially very serious and adverse side effects, including myocarditis, which also has no benefit to the public (since we now know it doesn’t prevent spreading it or catching it), or to himself (since his natural immunity from having had it previously is stronger). Seems as if you’re the fool. Making a choice based on his long term health and his principles of liberty, over the pursuit of a historical legacy of major championships (as he obviously no longer needs prize money) is admirable, and most of us take pride in knowing there’s still big time athlete’s who value principles, health, and common sense over their own vanity and records.

Last edited 1 month ago by jack brandt
David Giles
David Giles
1 month ago
Reply to  Burton Tallen

Why must he? What difference will it make to anyone else if he doesn’t?

Hilary Wallace
Hilary Wallace
1 month ago
Reply to  Burton Tallen

Guess you wouldn’t recognise a principle if it got up and hit you in the face.

jack brandt
jack brandt
1 month ago

I wouldn’t watch Wimbledon because of the sleazy British governments outrageous influence to force the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian tennis players, and I won’t watch the US Open for their idiotic and grandiose vaccination rules for non-US players which defies any measure of logic or common sense (which is the norm for government bureaucracies). And I like tennis. Can the sport of tennis really afford to repel some of their somewhat select fan base over such stupidity?

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  jack brandt

Russian and other players were excluded because they refused to condemn Russian genocidal aggression in Ukraine.
There is no comparison with Djokovic being excluded from GS this year, when he was allowed to compete in 2021.
If these supposed vaccines really work (like in preventing transmissions and getting ill), why is his participation a problem?
It is purely legal and political covid porn.
Governments cannot admit that their policies were wrong without being sued by business owners and others who suffered economically for no reason.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago

Clearly Djokovic stance on covid vaccination is quasi religious.
It is not difficult to get vaccine certificate without actually being vaccinated in many countries.
With Novak being National hero in Serbia, it would be very easy for government to make him vaccinated.
So i really admire Djokovic for taking this stance thus missing on two chances a season of winning GS.
As to idiocy of Australian and USA governments covid policies?
They are total fraud and disgrace.

Angela Paris
Angela Paris
1 month ago

“Science is not supposed to be religious dogma etched in stone, it is an ever-evolving knowledge base that changes and improves thanks to dissent and skepticism.”

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 month ago

The policy now applies solely to non-US citizens visiting via legal channels.
It was dropped for US citizens when the courts struck it down, and the fact that the border control cannot refuse entry to US citizens.
The problem is that border control officers have been granted way to much discretion to violate constitutional rights. They will seize phones and laptop computers capriciously, to rummage in them, and use the blackmail of summary deportation to get their way.
Such behaviour by government officials within the USA is prohibited on constitutional grounds, regardless of the citizenship of their victims. It is high time to abolish toleration of official caprice at the borders.

Hilary Wallace
Hilary Wallace
1 month ago

This policy is not only a disgrace to American sport it’s a disgrace to America. The CDC has declared that there is no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated yet the unvaccinated still cannot enter and Novak Djokovic (a man I greatly admire) is not the only one affected. Can anyone tell me why my daughter (double vaccinated over a year ago – caught covid in April 22) can enter the States whilst I, unvaccinated, caught covid in April 22, cannot enter the States? Quite honestly, the US appears a foolish, deluded and rather pathetic country at the moment and needs to get its act together pretty quickly.

Samuel Delaney
Samuel Delaney
1 month ago

Biden’s Democratic Party clearly hates America and is at war with her culture. People who love their country would never think of doing the things this regime is doing.

jay keego
jay keego
1 month ago

Hopefully his issue shines some light on the craziness of not being aloud into America if unvaccinated I’ve gotten COVID twice but still am not aloud to travel to the us and am in my 20s so not much risk either for my age group time to change the rules

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
1 month ago

Has anyone else noted that the “US Open” is being sponsored by Moderna this year?

c h
c h
1 month ago

there is no right to participate in a tennis match
get the goddam vaccine, or stfu

frank finkelstein
frank finkelstein
1 month ago

BooHoo! Poor little snowflake is not above the law. All of you clearly are experts in Infectious Diseases and Public Health.

Michael Schurr
Michael Schurr
1 month ago

I assume you are double vaxed and triple boosted Franky? Good luck with that as you await the fun part. Can you say deep vein thrombosis? Another libtard who watches too much CNN and worships Fraudci.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 month ago

Fluckin idot…

David Smethurst
David Smethurst
1 month ago

Well, Park MacDougald may not be an expert but Dr Vinay Prasad, Associate Professor , Hematology Oncology Medicine Health Policy Epidemiology certainly is and he’s saying exactly the same thing about this stupid ban.
see: Let Djokovic Play – by Vinay Prasad – Common Sense

Art C
Art C
1 month ago

“Frank” reminds me of those die-hard Nazis who headed to Argentina after WWII. The poor little jerk actually still believes all the crap he was fed when the very “experts” he quotes are all ducking & diving & claiming they were just following orders.

James Fleet
James Fleet
1 month ago

can’t wait to see the actual greatest player of all time, rafa nadal, rack up another slam next month.

jack brandt
jack brandt
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fleet

Nadal couldn’t beat Coric in Cincinnati last week, don’t hold your breath, as he’s not in top form. Djokovic will always have the edge on Nadal for all-time best, as even with Nadal’s large clay surface edge vs. him (and everybody else because he’s a clay court God), Djokovic still has the edge head to head and in finals. It’s close though, no question, Nadal’s a legend. Who really cares who ” the “greatest of all time” moniker gets bestowed to anyway, that’s all opinion and that will never be settled. It makes for fun bar arguments, but there’s nothing of value in it. They’ve both had amazing careers, it’s a shame we can’t see more of them in the twilight of their careers over government edicts of sheer stupidity.