Superstar athletes who refuse vaccinations learn that poor choices have consequences

YORK DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
Novak Djokovic
  • Novak Djokovic is the world's No. 1 men's tennis player.
  • Djokovic is also a vocal skeptic when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The unvaccinated Djokovic may not be able to play in the Australian Open because of his status.

Poor choices can have serious consequences.

It is an undeniable axiom and applies to everyone, no matter your status.

It even applies to best athletes in the world.

Novak Djokovic is learning that lesson the hard way right now.

Djokovic is the world’s best men’s tennis player. The 34-year-old Serbian superstar owns 20 men’s Grand Slam singles crowns, which is a record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. That includes nine Australian Open championships.

Djokovic’s bid for a 10th Australian Open title at this year’s event, which is slated to start on Jan. 17, has hit a major snag. Djokovic is embroiled in a controversy about whether the unvaccinated star should be allowed in Australia to compete in the event.

Djokovic did return to the tennis court Monday for training after he won a legal battle to stay in the country after his exemption from strict coronavirus vaccine rules was questioned. The Australian government, however, is still threatening to cancel his visa and deport him.

Djokovic's visa was pulled after his arrival last week because officials said he didn’t qualify for an exemption to a rule that all noncitizens must be fully vaccinated. Djokovic's lawyers say that since he recently recovered from COVID-19, he didn't need to be inoculated.

Djokovic was released Monday after being confined to an immigration hotel for four nights while his status was determined. It’s a drama that has gripped many in Australia and beyond.

As of this writing, the saga is far from over.

Judge says Djokovic can stay in Australia but saga not over

It could've been easily avoided: Djokovic, however, could’ve avoided this entire soap opera by doing one simple thing — get the COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, the vocal skeptic of vaccines chose not to get the jab.

That is his right, of course. No one is denying that.

Still, he made the choice not to get vaccinated and that decision could have very serious consequences that could cost him millions of dollars and the opportunity to make tennis history.

He's hardly alone: Djokovic is hardly alone when it comes to pro sports superstars who believe they are more knowledgeable about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines than the overwhelming majority of the worldwide medical community.

NBA standout Kyrie Irving and NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers are others in the anti-vax crowd.

Irving can only play road games with the Brooklyn Nets because of his status, while Rodgers has already come down with COVID-19 once this season. His absence likely cost Green Bay a victory.

Rodgers even lied about his status, saying he was “immunized” against the coronavirus, leading everyone to believe he had received the vaccine. When he came down with COVID-19, it became obvious that statement was a falsehood.

Irving and Rodgers paid a price for their stance. Unfortunately, their teammates, who are vaccinated, also paid a price by having their superstar team leaders miss games.

Djokovic, at least, is not involved in a team sport. The only person that he is hurting is himself.

Setting a bad example: Still, athletic superstars who refused to get vaccinated are also setting a bad example for their legion of fans, who may follow their misguided notions.

In a free society, we all have the right to make poor choices. It’s important to remember, however, that those choices come with consequences.