Australian basketball legend and former NBA player Andrew Bogut has called on more celebrities, influencers, and athletes to speak out against continuing COVID lockdowns.
Bogut is a well-known Australian basketball player who enjoyed a long stint in the National Basketball Association (2005 to 2019) with teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Lakers.
He has been a vocal critic of government-mandated lockdowns and said he could see the damage it was causing working-class Australians.
“My father would not have been able to survive in this current climate, period. Who pays the mortgage? Who would have paid the loan on the car? Who would have paid his business loan? I know exactly what that is all about,” he said in a video posted on Instagram.
“Why have we seen no celebrities, athletes—it’s barely one or two percent—that are speaking up against this government in Australia,” he said, noting how easy it would be for them to communicate with millions of Australians and influence government policy.
“You athletes and influencers that have all these sponsors and marketers behind you pushing promos to the plebs … Where’s your voice? Why aren’t you speaking up?” he added.
“The silence is deafening. Let me give you the reason why,” Bogut said. “Last year about three or four months into this pandemic, I got a message from somebody. I’m not going to name who it was or where it came from. I got offered money to put out a public service announcement … It would have been something like this: ‘Hi I’m Andrew Bogut … it’s your duty to stay home. Do the right thing for the community.’”
He said the governing bodies of sporting organisations were working closely with the authorities to keep their competitions open and running, this, in turn, has supposedly led to athletes staying mum on anti-lockdown messaging.
Major sporting organisations like the National Rugby League and Australian Football League have had to work with the various state governments in the country to secure concessions or quarantine arrangements to keep their competitions afloat amid tight public health orders.
Australian and Queensland cricket player Usman Khawaja replied on Twitter to Bogut’s video saying, “There is a very real link between unemployment and higher death rates. Definitely two sides to this lockdown.”
Although evidence of death rates has been scarce, the prolonged lockdowns in Sydney and other Australian cities has coincided with an uptick in requests for mental health support.
Lifeline Australia, a 24-hour mental health and suicide prevention hotline, said August was its busiest month ever over its 58-year history.
On Aug. 19, the state of Victoria entered its 200th day in lockdown, while Greater Sydney in New South Wales (NSW), has been undergoing an extended lockdown since late June, which was originally slated to run over a five-week period to contain an outbreak of the Delta variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The lockdown was subsequently extended two more times. First, until the end of August—with authorities citing low vaccination rates—and then until Sept. 30.
Job losses have been dire, with the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) finding that over a three-week period from June 26 to July 17, NSW shed 200,000 small business employees, 64,000 medium-sized business workers, and 12,000 large business workers.
“Lockdown measures have a much larger impact on small businesses than they do on large businesses,” IPA research fellow Kurt Wallace said.
“Every time a lockdown is implemented, the effect is the same: thousands of small business workers are forced out of work, while those working for large corporates are far more likely to keep their jobs.”