The Djoker

I don’t want to take sides in Novak Djokovic’s vaccine debate. Unfortunately, I chose to write this damn blog. 😆 I took three jabs to protect myself and my family. Very few people I know have chosen to remain unvaccinated. My immediate environment — including family and friends — is probably 98%+ vaccinated. My job also requires a vaccine before returning to the office after this lockdown. I drank the kool-aid which spouts now from a fire hose endorsed by both Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Novak Djokovic comes from a country that is below 50% vaxxed. There is strong vaccine hesitancy there despite high vaccine availability. In the three countries I know well — the United States (60%+ fully vaxxed), India (just below 60%), and Japan (below 80%) — there is less vaccine hesitancy, although India only recently made boosters available. Of these countries, I’ve been touched directly by the loss of life only in India due to medical access issues. People are going to great lengths to save loved ones even flying there from the United States. Imagine if Djokovic suffered similar tragedies in Serbia. Would he think differently?

I get it. Novak Djokovic is his own person, in a sport that succeeds because of individualism and unique personalities. Vaccine hesitancy is highest in countries where libertarianism and entrepreneurship is common. America, Serbia, and other countries promote entrepreneurship as a means to get out of poverty. Djokovic’s family of entrepreneurs escaped a war and wrenching poverty. Free Will matters in a world controlled by kleptocrats and big data. Some folks managed to figure it out by profiteering and building up their popularity. Novak Djokovic deftly navigated social media through the pandemic until he made one update too many.

It takes a lot of courage (and wealth) to question authority since much of what government says is less about public welfare and more about political rhetoric. Never mind, Australia is going through an election year and the politicians need a lightning rod to maintain their professional livelihoods.

If this was not a public health issue, I would support Djokovic. I’ve seen him play and he is the best at what he does on a court. Still, I think one should operate based on the rules coming from the government and their workplace. It’s clear that Djokovic is aware of the rules and has been able to flout them due to his wealth and privilege. It’s unknown how many lives may have been lost as he exposed others during his covid bouts, especially children, and those less privileged.

The Djoker tried to become a worldwide favorite to match his sports feats. He will never become a fan favorite like Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. He certainly will never attain the heights of sports heroes like Tom Brady or Michael Jordan. The world needs another type of persona in this selfish social media era. Djokovic is the face of a global sport, but he chooses to be the face of his country at the expense of his country’s perception to the rest of the world.

Sometimes the rules are the only thing keeping our fragile world together. Leaders follow the rules to stay ahead of the curve, not below it.

Djoker, just get the vaccine and save your career!