The world of tennis is attracting attention for reasons other than matches. Novak Djokovic, the world’s top men’s tennis player, was detained for the second time on Saturday in Australia over his unvaccinated status, casting doubt on his participation at the Australian Open.
Talking about Djokovic’s decision to stay unvaccinated, former Indian tennis star Somdev Devvarman feels the entire stir is a catch-22 situation for all.
“I am vaccinated. Novak is obviously unvaccinated and he wants to play. From what I understand, Novak, his team and his family, want to exercise the fact that they are free to make their own choices.” he says, adding, “I can see their point of view, even though I don’t agree with it. But over time, you realise that this is a personal choice. I also know people in my life who are still hesitant about getting the vaccine. So while I stand on the side of being vaccinated, I understand where people, who don’t want to put things in their body, come from.”
He further says that it is hard him to say anything because the story is still incomplete. “We are still sitting over here without knowing whether or not he (Djokovic) is going to play, even though his name was in the draw. Also, everybody involved has openly said that they have made a few errors in judgement, starting with Novak who sent out a letter of apology for doing a photoshoot despite knowing he is Covid positive,” he adds.
According to Devvarman, tennis player Rafael Nadal summed up the row well, when he said that “the best players in the world should be playing at the best events”.
Devvarman elaborates, “It is important for the tennis world… So, he has worked within the rules to try and find a way to get into the country and find a legal way to play…. The whole tennis world is waiting to see what happens.”
But he doesn’t shrug off Djokovic’s responsibility to ensure everyone’s safety while travelling for such global tournaments.
The 36-year-old says, “In a world where we are battling with a disease, which easily spreads, we have to do our part in trying our best to not do that. Our roles as travellers or citizens is to make sure we understand the rules put by the governments all over the world. And then make sure we follow the rules.”
Djokovic is scheduled for a court hearing on January 16.He is lined up to play on Day One of the tournament on Monday in Melbourne, which will be telecast live on Sony Six.