For the past few weeks, the tennis world has been abuzz with the story of Novak Djokovic, the Serbian Tennis Star who is a well known anti vaxxer. He flew to Australia, claiming a medical exemption from getting vaccinated, and his agent had assured him that that was enough to allow him to play. When Djokovic arrived in Melbourne though, he was denied entry and forced to stay at a quarantine hotel until his appeal. The decision was overturned. Then came the news that Djokovic had tested positive for COVID in December and broke protocol by going out unmasked in public during that time. In a region of Australia, that has faced months of COVID lockdowns this news was too much. Many cried for the tennis star to be removed from the country. The government swayed to public opinion and placed Djokovic in lockdown once more. This time a tribunal upheld the government ruling, and Novak was sent home.
This is only part of the story of course. Some people thought this was a political decision. Djokovic was being punished for his anti vax views. Serbia claimed it was an attack by the west on their country. I think though the true story lies somewhere else.
You see, when one enters Australia, everyone is expected to fill out a visa entry card. I filled out several of these cards over the years. The cards have changed a bit since the advent of COVID, but everyone entering the country must fill out the form and sign it before meeting with immigration officials at the airport. Even if for some reason you must have someone else fill out the card on your behalf, (say for lack of understanding of English or a physical challenge that makes filling out the card impossible, by signing the form, you are responsible for what is on the card. And anybody who has watched Border Security Australia realizes that putting false information on the card is grounds for immediate expulsion from Australia and a possible three year ban from entering the country.
The problem is the information on Mr. Djokovic's card was wrong. It failed to mention his previous bout of COVID. It failed to mention other locations which he had visited during the past month. The visa entry card contained several bits of erroneous information.
The tennis star immediately blamed someone else. His agent had filled out his card for him. Yet all fliers into Australia are warned in videos as they enter the country that once they sign the card, they are responsible for all the information on the card. And in being responsible for the information, they are subject to grave penalities if the information on the card is not true. Mr. Djokovic had to sign the card that the agent had filled out. Before he signed it however, he should have checked to see the information was true or not.
It should be noted that these rules apply to everybody not just some. He was not being singled out because of his views. He was not being singled out because of his reputation of having a hot temper. He had to hand in his visa card just like I did. And just like I did, he had to, like me, ensure that all the information on the card was correct or face a penalty.
The whole story shows a few things. No one should be immune from penalites for their actions. Yes he may be the number one tennis player in the world, but he has to still obey the laws of the country that he is visiting. Yes he may have fans, but that does not give him the right to do whatever he wants. Extraordinary talents are one thing, but it does not give anyone a free pass. Blessings.