'Don't go to jail over Djokovic': Questions remain despite tennis star's legal victory
CBC Sports' Bring It In panel reacts to Serbian winning Australian visa court battle
On the latest episode of the CBC Sports video series Bring It In, host Morgan Campbell is joined by panellists Dave Zirin and Meghan McPeak to discuss tennis star Novak Djokovic's court victory, positive COVID-19 result and the protests in Australia surrounding his case.
While the unvaccinated Djokovic won his court battle to have his visa reinstated and remain in Australia on Monday, it still remains to be seen if he will avoid deportation and compete at the Australian Open — with the government still threatening to cancel his visa.
"All of this is just as unclear as it always was. The only thing that's clear is Novak Djokovic is not vaccinated and does not want to get vaccinated, and that you still technically aren't allowed into Australia if you haven't had a vaccine," Campbell said.
Zirin compares the Serbian tennis player to the National Football League (NFL)'s Aaron Rodgers, who was fined after misleading people about his vaccination status, and Antonio Brown, who was suspended after supplying the NFL with a fake vaccination card.
"Novak Djokovic is like the unholy hybrid of Aaron Rodgers and Antonio Brown. [He has] all of the obnoxious entitlement of Rodgers, while at the same time he may be playing very fishy with his positive and negative tests and his results like Brown," Zirin said.
"He has all of the arrogance, all of the sleaziness, all of the entitlement that we've seen in the NFL."
WATCH | Bring It In panel discusses Djokovic court battle, protests:
Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 16, allowing him to acquire a medical exemption, but he was pictured maskless at a public event just a day later. The panel discusses there being a double standard involved because of Djokovic's status and power, and the resulting backlash and anger from some Australians who feel he is receiving special treatment.
"To what extent is Novak Djokovic benefiting from the fact that he's Novak Djokovic?" Campbell said.
"They don't like the fact that you're rubbing this thing in their faces when Australians have been going through vaccine mandates, mandatory testing, quarantine when they leave the country."
McPeak builds on the idea that the average person wouldn't be afforded the same loophole in order get into Australia without proof of vaccination.
"We wouldn't have gotten into the country [without being vaccinated], we wouldn't have gotten past border control. It just would've been a completely different situation and we would not have gotten out of the immigration detention centre," McPeak said.
WATCH | Court permits Djokovic to stay in Australia for time being:
Djokovic was released from a Melbourne immigration detention centre following the ruling, but the protests in support that led up to it also included many who were sympathetic with the plight of immigrants forced to remain indefinitely in the hotel Djokovic resided in as a result of not meeting the requirements of Australia's Border Force.
The panel also talks about how the protests supporting Djokovic spiralled out of control with the Serbian community in Melbourne who took action.
"What you have outside in Australia are now actually violent battles between Serbian-Australian protestors — people in Australia of Serbian descent — and the police. So this is like the Aaron Rodgers situation on steroids," Zirin said.
Campbell goes on to add that at the end of the day, Djokovic ultimately only cares about one thing — himself.
"Don't go to jail over Novak Djokovic, because he would not go to jail for you. Don't get pepper sprayed over Novak Djokovic; he won't even take a vaccine for you," Campbell added.
Despite the ongoing controversy and uncertainty, Djokovic has resumed training with his path cleared to compete for his 21st grand slam title and 10th Australian Open title. He has a chance to break a tie with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam men's singles titles of all time.