Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Come clean on why the exemption was granted
After a torrid 2020 and 2021, enduring the world’s most locked-down city, Melburnians have a right to feel outraged by the exemption given to Novak Djokovic. He has publicly stated his opposition to vaccination in previous interviews. He was quoted in The New York Times in August, 2020: “My issue here with vaccines is if someone is forcing me to put something in my body. That I don’t want”.
Given his outspoken, anti-vax stance, it is understandable that the public might question whether he has genuine medical grounds for an exemption. Otherwise, why not simply state earlier that he had medical issues that made the vaccine dangerous for him?
Meanwhile, some Victorians lost their jobs when they refused to be vaccinated. This arrogance and entitlement on Djokovic’s part should make for an interesting reception by the vaccinated public watching his matches.
Teresa Dowding, Hoppers Crossing
As always, celebrities are treated differently
I am disgusted at the federal and Victorian governments for allowing Djokovic into Australia. After everything we have been through, another celebrity is allowed to just stroll in around the rules. It is not acceptable and a slap in the face to every decent, pro-science Australian. One rule for the majority, another for the celebrity. Boycott the Australian Open.
James O’Keefe, East Melbourne
Does this player feel no shame or embarrassment?
Novak Djokovic is permitted to play in the Australian Open, presumably unvaccinated, begging the excuse of a confidential medical exemption. It is his right, of course, to keep it confidential. However, it is hard to believe that someone with a legitimate reason for not vaccinating would not want the exemption explained.
Wouldn’t they be embarrassed to appear to have received special treatment, while participating in a potential superspreader event? Wouldn’t they reflect uncomfortably on the irony of unvaccinated spectators being excluded? Might they even be a little chastened to accept such handsome payment under these circumstances? I am losing my taste for tennis.
Shelley Rowlands, Hawthorn
Djokovic should learn from the true gentleman
Can you imagine Roger Federer refusing to be vaccinated, or seeking to bypass the standards required of his audience? No, Federer is a gentleman, Novak Djokovic is not.
David Maiden, Glen Iris
Of course we believe the decision was unbiased
Tennis Australia has got its way and Novak Djokovic is coming to the Australian Open. Cause for celebration? Maybe not. In spite of earnest assurances that vaccination exemptions are granted only after anonymous assessment by two independent panels, the reaction of most Victorians will be, “Yeah? Try pulling the other leg.“The likely outcome is less credibility for the Victorian government, and a reduction in the Novak fan club. There is no downside for Tennis Australia – it has no credibility anyway.
Keith Heale, Glen Iris
Too sick for the vaccine, but not too sick to play
It is absolutely outrageous that Novak Djokovic has been granted a medical exemption to enter Australia unvaccinated. It is an insult to the many people who have been denied entry since the pandemic began and to all Victorians who have endured the world’s longest number of days in lockdown. It is difficult to believe that anyone of the physical calibre of a tennis player of Djokovic’s ability would have a medical condition that prevents him from being vaccinated.
Marcia Roche, Mill Park
For months we’ve put up with a petulant Djokovic
His medical exemption might be legitimate. His petulant, self-indulgent, infantile posturing over the last few months certainly makes Novak Djokovic look silly and the Australian Open organisers, along with the Victorian government, look like sycophants.
Richard Jamonts, Williamstown
Obeying the guidelines
When we bend the rules to fly in a sportsman at the risk of our community, while still being unable to bring our own citizens home safely, this is hypocrisy. No unvaccinated person, no matter who they are, should inflict their virus and ideals onto the majority of responsible people obeying the logical guidelines. Why are we sending out mixed messages? Wrong is wrong, right is right. Let’s do things the right way.
Peter Levy, Brighton East
Health before the economy
Isn’t it amazing that a “handful” of tennis professionals, led by Novak Djokovic, fall into the very rare categories which render people exempt from COVID-19 vaccination? To think that such super-fit athletes can perform so well despite their vulnerabilities. What a disgraceful farce. Maybe allowing them to compete in the Australian Open is good for the economy but it is morally bankrupt.
Jill Toulantas, Clifton Hill
Our right to refunds
I have requested that the Australian Open refunds my tickets on the basis it has misrepresented its position by allowing an unvaccinated player, Novak Djokovic, to compete. I suggest others do the same.
Paul Lazarou, Fitzroy
A black ban on Novak?
After all we have been through and endured in Victoria, I would understand if any trade union members who felt as incensed as I do about the presence of Novak Djokovic in Melbourne refused to handle anything to do with him. This includes air traffic control, baggage handling, hotel accommodation and catering.
Simon Clegg, Donvale
I wish I were ‘special’ too
Whoever made the decision to let this guy enter Australia disgusts me. Whilst the majority of us scramble to get vaccinated and tested for COVID-19, he waltzes in with a medical exemption and makes a joke of all the sacrifices of the last 20 months. Any faith I have in government and public health officials at a state or federal level has evaporated. Oh to be “special”.
Andrea Plantinga, Point Lonsdale
Treating us with contempt
In what can only be described as a win for anti-vaxxers, Tennis Australia has given Novak Djokovic an exemption to play in the Australian Open and consequently raised its middle finger at all Victorians who did the right thing and got vaccinated. It has certainly extinguished any enthusiasm I had for the event.
Alan Tiller, Caulfield North
A shameful decision
Novak Djokovic wants us to “feel love and respect towards all beings”. Meanwhile, our three little grandsons have not been allowed to come here from China for two years and so it is possible that we will never see them again. Yet he circumvents the rules which have long applied to the majority of us. Shame on him and those who allowed him to do so.
Ray Wyatt, Balwyn North
A state of emergency
On Tuesday, I queued at our nearest testing centre in Torquay for seven-and-a-half hours. Alone in my car, unwell, and with limited access to toilet facilities, I was one of the lucky ones. Many cars were turned away once the queue reached the estimated four-hour wait time.
Despite the influx of visitors to the coast, this facility is operating for only four hours a day. That is no fault of the workers who are doing a tremendous job. They must be exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed. It is the responsibility of our elected representatives.
One worker said they had witnessed cars arriving at 11pm. People are sleeping in their cars in order to be tested. How are those with severe symptoms managing these queues? Those with small children? The elderly?
My experience is far from isolated. Hours are not being extended at testing centres. Extra sites are not being made available. This must now be considered a state emergency. Where is the SES? Surely the resources of the army could be used to help ease this crisis. What is being done to alleviate this disastrous situation?
Patricia Saffin, Jan Juc
The battle to be tested
As a returned traveller from Scandinavia on Monday, I have found it extremely difficult to fulfil the Australian quarantine requirements of getting a COVID-19 test within 72 hours. I can’t purchase a rapid antigen test or make an appointment at a walk-in clinic until Friday, and my GP’s clinic is so busy they are not answering the phone.
As a healthcare worker and a responsible member of the community, I am committed to doing the right thing but I can understand why some people say, “it’s too hard”. As most of our problems have been as a result of returning travellers, why haven’t we learned something? To enter Denmark, we had to have a rapid antigen test before leaving the airport. This was extremely efficient and did not incur long delays on arrival in Copenhagen.
Kate Houghton, Mount Martha
Target the right voters
Emma King and Libby Buckingham write eloquently of the necessity of free rapid antigen tests to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (Opinion, 5/1).
However, by attributing to the Prime Minister “a deep and callous misunderstanding” of the position, they mistake him. He refuses to provide free test kits because those who cannot afford to pay for them are unlikely to vote for the Liberal Party and probably live in electorates likely to vote for Labor. Why spend money on those who do not support you?
Gael Barrett, North Balwyn
The relative value of $15
Immediate free rapid antigen tests would not result in an increase of the gap between the rich (for whom $15 to $20 is the price of a panino) and the poor (for whom $15 to $20 is a couple of days’ food). I am one of many taxpayers who would be happy to contribute to free tests. And who will vote against any government which blatantly encourages selfishness.
Mirna Cicioni, Brunswick East
Surely the market rules
How things change. The party of free enterprise is upset at the price gouging occurring with rapid antigen tests. I was under the impression that it would support the operation of the free market at work.
Alan Gamble, Boronia
The pain of isolation
Dr Sarah Russell (Letters, 4/1) is right to ask what sort of life is it when those in aged care facilities are confined to their rooms in order to combat COVID-19.
Granted, no facility wants to be the next St Basil’s, but who knows how this is experienced by those with dementia, let alone those who are frail but aware. Well, actually we do know as the testimony of so many has been reported over the last two years.
Isolation is surely counter-productive. My experience during the many lockdowns over the last 18months of having to make contact by FaceTime with a loved one with dementia brings home what the absence of presence and touch can mean.
John Whelen, Box Hill South
Time to name some names
Dr Emma Shortis’ piece about the US-Australia alliance – “What’s the plan for the worse” (Opinion, 5/1) – suggests the “forces behind” the incursion of The Capitol in 2021 include “enthusiastic champions” in Australia. If she listed groups and named some individuals championing a right-wing coup, her assertion about a possible dark future for democracy would carry more weight.
Andrew Smith, Leongatha
The problem with logging
Michelle Freeman from Forestry Australia admits that regrowing our publicly owned native forests after logging is problematic – “Forest regeneration funding misses burning issue” (Opinion, 4/1). It is not surprising as our forests have evolved to regrow after a bushfire, but not a massive attack with D7 dozers and monster chainsaws that scalp a tall, wet mountain forest down to ground level. This is what is causing logged forests to turn into weed-infested landscapes, not fires.
Yes, regrowing a natural, complex forest ecosystem from such wounded land is fraught. That is why logging native forests should be stopped; it is a dead loss.
Mel Darer, secretary, Victorian Forest Alliance, Melbourne
Importance of precision
Anne Curzan’s article on “fewer” and “less” (Opinion, 4/1) was interesting. Indeed there are cases when common use, or sounding “better”, overrides grammatical rules, but, nevertheless, some words need to retain their meaning or else the language is degraded.
I did very poorly at school learning English, yet as an 81-year-old I find myself shouting at people on television when they use words incorrectly (as I was taught).
Two pairs of words come to mind immediately: “concern” and “concerning”, and “alternate” and “alternative”. Concerning possible concern about walking and using one’s legs in an alternate fashion – do not worry, it is better than the alternative of hopping all the way.
And with COVID-19 cases rising “exponentially” (which has a precise meaning for mathematicians), why can’t they rise very, or extremely, rapidly? It conveys in simpler language the same sort of meaning to you and I.
Richard Crago, Burwood East
The Australian and English cricket teams need to realise that their huge salaries are only paid because of their ability to provide entertainment and excitement to the public. The 40,000 spectators at the MCG last Tuesday paid to see a full day’s cricket.
Following the early finish of the Test match, why couldn’t the two captains have challenged each other to a “two-session” match to satisfy the big crowd? Some of the English team are fine and aggressive players in the shorter formats of the game and might have been able to avenge their heavy loss in the Test.|
Alan Monger, Benalla
Please wear it properly
A P2 or N95 mask is still not a better fit if it is worn below the nose like many people do.
Alan Inchley, Frankston
AND ANOTHER THING
A medical exemption but fit to play? No Djok.
Ray Jones, Box Hill North
Djokovic may be the greatest sportsman in his field but he’s a very poor sport. His attitude has tainted the Australian Open.
Liz Foster, Parkdale
Exemption? Disgusting. Where’s Andrews when we need him to stand up? Spineless. I won’t go to the Open this year.
Mike Smith, Croydon
So Djokovic has medical clearance, but who issued the visa?
Breda Hertaeg, Beaumaris
The exemption demonstrates the moral bankruptcy too often seen in Australian sport. Disgraceful.
Geoff Warren, Anglesea
Novak has a valid medical exemption but won’t say what it is. Game, set, money.
Don Relf, Mentone
Keep well, Novak. I doubt you will be welcome at any Australian hospital.
Eileen Dunnicliff, Bendigo
What were the world rankings of those players whose request for exemptions were rejected?
Phil Mackenzie, Eaglemont
What a joke, a very bad joke.
Randall Bradshaw, Fitzroy
Djokovic is entitled to privacy but if he wants me to cheer from the sidelines, he should speak up in favour of vaccination.
Andrew Collins, Dromana
I hope spectators will show their disapproval of decisions made by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government.
Diana Goetz, Mornington
One rule for us. Another rule for international sportspeople.|
Peter Caffin, North Ringwood
I assume there’ll be no ball kids when Novak plays. Or will the Australian Open expect them to have a “health exemption”?
Michael Dalton, Deans Marsh
Sob, sob. I’ll never be famous (or rich) enough to get a “medical exemption”.
Max Nankervis, Middle Park
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