Is It Two or Three Cheers for Djokovic at the Australian Open?

By Roger L. Simon
Roger L. Simon
Roger L. Simon
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, editor-at-large for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are “The GOAT” (fiction) and “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (nonfiction). He can be found on GETTR and TRUTH Social @rogerlsimon.
January 5, 2022Updated: January 6, 2022


Maybe it’s because I’m a contrarian—many didn’t like him, especially the legions of Raphael Nadal and Roger Federer supporters—but I have been a huge Novak Djokovic fan even before 2011 when he won three Grand Slams (as he did again in 2021) and took his high place in the anointed of tennis.

I liked his sense of humor and that he could speak five… or is it six… languages, not to mention the amazing two-hander down the line. I shrugged at the diet craziness—it seems to have worked for him—and some of the outbursts. (I have been known to throw my racquet myself on occasion.)

Now that it is finally clear he has received a medical exemption from COVID vaccination (more in a moment) and will be playing in the 2022 Australian Open, I will, thus far, be rooting for him to win his tenth Australian (he already has the record at nine), his twenty-first Grand Slam (breaking his three-way tie with Federer and Nadal) and cement his already acknowledged GOAT status in the sport. (He holds winning records against Roger and Rafa and has already lapped Federer for the most weeks at number one by 34 and climbing. He has, in essence, rewritten the record book.)

Many, however, will be rooting against him. They are in several, sometimes overlapping, camps.

The largest camp is, not surprisingly, fans of other players from the ever-popular Nadal (Federer, aging, will be absent) to one of the young stars like Sasha Zverev and Danilo Medvedev.

This camp will be augmented and justified in their rooting by those who think it unfair an elite athlete, number one in the sport no less, gets a vaccine exemption when the more plebeian athletes were forced to comply with Australia’s onerous rules (more of that in a moment too).

The smaller, but perhaps growing, second group are those who wish Novak had stood by his principles and not gone no matter what, especially with the world at a crunch point regarding mandates, masks, and the rest. Call that the disappointment camp. I can sympathize.

Then there are the sports journalists. Though not as politically nauseating as the racially-obsessed ESPN crowd who have done their best to help ruin football and basketball, tennis journalists tend to be the more conventional New York Times-y upscale types like’s Steve Tignor who writes:

“Djokovic’s resistance to medical interventions is long-standing, and goes beyond vaccine jabs. In 2017, he put off elbow surgery for as long as he could; when he finally had it, he told the Telegraph, he woke up and cried. ‘Every time I thought about what I did, I felt like I had failed myself,’ he said.

“Maybe that experience hardened Djokovic’s resistance to caving in and getting the shot. But there’s a big difference between the two procedures. Getting vaccinated is, as Djokovic says, a personal decision, but it’s more than that; it affects everyone around you. If you decide not to get it, you make it more likely that you’ll catch the virus and pass it on to others. Yes, it’s possible to get COVID-19 even if you’re vaccinated, but it’s much less likely that you’ll end up in a hospital bed, stressing the world’s already over-stressed medical facilities. He surely understands the risks of spread from his experience with the Adria Tour last spring.”

If you decide not to get it, you make it more likely that youll catch the virus and pass it on to others?

Well, it is so if you think so, as the playwright Luigi Pirandello once said. Unfortunately—for Tignor, but not for Djokovic—the facts these days do not appear to be substantiating what the tennis journalist so blithely assumes.

Here’s the latest via the always useful email from Alex Berenson’s substack. First he quotes the familiar—Biden tell us once again “This continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Then come some facts:

“Meanwhile, back in reality, here are the latest figures from Ontario (I’d give you the US numbers but—oopsie—our government doesn’t provide them). More than 70 percent of people in the hospital with COVID are vaccinated.”

Berenson continues with the case breakdown for the hospitalized in that province: Unvaccinated: 303; Partially vaccinated: 64; Fully vaccinated: 677. It notes at the bottom “and vaccinated people have more cases per-capita than the unvaccinated.”

Maybe Steve Tignor and almost all the mainstream media, tennis branch or not, have gotten things wrong. (Tignor, btw, is very good on his sport.)

But what about the country and continent of Australia itself? What happened to them? Once one of the most progressive (in the real sense, not the jargon sense we’re used to) places on the globe, they have turned into a veritable COVID concentration camp, leading the world in lockdowns.

Have they done any good? Well, we all know the answer to that—and yet, they persist, as if to demonstrate that famous definition of insanity attributed to Einstein. Let’s all hope Australia comes back to its senses some day.

But back to Novak. Is it two or three cheers? Or even a tepid one?

Apparently he was given his exemption by two experienced juries that were only able to see his history, not his illustrious name along with it. It was an anonymous, they say, and reportedly “rigorous” examination. We don’t know more than that.

Until we do, I will be rooting for him, although, like most of us these days, I, as they say, “reserve my right to amend” and extend.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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