The COVID regime has been relentless in browbeating people.
Not even professional athletes have been spared.
And ESPN announcers got into it over a tennis legend’s vaccine status.
Tennis great Novak Djokovic just won his tenth Australian Open title to bring him back into a tie with Rafael Nadal with the most major championships at 22 total.
Many already consider Djokovic the greatest of all time, and he added to his résumé by drawing even with Nadal, and based on legends’ recent play, Djokovic is poised to surpass Nadal at some point in the near future.
The Australian Open win had extra significance for Djokovic because it’s his favorite tournament—nobody has won it more than him—and he was barred from playing last year because he did not get the COVID vaccine.
During Djokovic’s post-match celebration, tennis great and ESPN commentator John McEnroe rattled off the obstacles Djokovic had to overcome when he was interrupted by broadcaster Chris Fowler, who made sure to tutt-tutt Djokovic for not getting the vaccine.
McEnroe said, “He gets deported out of Australia, doesn’t get any points at Wimbledon, can’t play the [U.S.] Open.”
That’s when Fowler piped up and said, “A part of his choices, to be fair. He made choices that led to that for some of those things.”
McEnroe responded, “I don’t think—I think he should have been permitted to play.”
Fowler responded, “Okay, well, that’s a debate…He did make choices that led to that. But that’s forgotten for the moment.”
Did you hear @cbfowler cut off @JohnMcEnroe just as he's describing what happened last year? Amazing they won't let the talking points go even now pic.twitter.com/uJzRSAQwsX
— The Aisle Seat (@andredursin) January 29, 2023
As McEnroe pointed out, Djokovic was deported last year because of Australia’s draconian COVID restrictions, which ended Djokovic’s streak of three straight Australian open titles.
Djokovic and all the other players did not get any tour points for playing at Wimbledon because of a decision by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) after the tournament barred Russian and Belarusian players from competing due to the war in Ukraine.
Djokovic also did not play in last year’s U.S. Open because of the travel restrictions regarding the unvaccinated.
This isn’t the first time McEnroe voiced his displeasure with Djokovic being denied chances.
After Djokovic won Wimbledon last year, McEnroe said during the victory ceremony, “These politicians are getting in the way too much…They did it in Australia. Let’s let the guy come in and play in the U.S. I mean, come on. This is ridiculous.”
In light of Djokovic being barred from playing at last year’s U.S. Open, McEnroe said during an interview, “I think it’s b.s. That’s what I think. I think he should be allowed to play. My personal opinion, as I’ve been vaccinated—I had a booster shot—that’s up to the individual…He’s very careful about anything he puts in his body, so it’s frustrating to see at this point…It’s really unfortunate, but that’s the rules that we have right now with the government. I don’t agree with it, but c’est la vie at the moment.”
The year could turn out to be a revenge tour for Djokovic.