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Rules Apply to All, Even if You Are #1

When you grow up in poverty, you can’t help being just a little more attuned to the injustices of the world between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and, especially of the (sometimes) arrogance or sense of deserving that accompanies people who are at the ‘top’. This is quite possibly because you spent your childhood watching life from the periphery – watching as the other little girls had new dresses, families had cars that actually ran, friends had ‘holidays’, the ‘haves’ bought the turkeys you were peddling from the back of your beat up old station wagon, passersby laughed as your family picked bottles from the ditches, other children were enrolled in dance/figure skating/gymnastics . . . . you grew up knowing very well your place on the social and financial ladder and, no matter how financially comfortable you become as adults, you never lose that tendency to sit back and watch.



So, the Associated Press reports that tennis star Novak Djokovic is trying to enter Australia without the proper paperwork and complaining about the ‘accommodation’ he is placed in when the Border Force of Australia intervened. (Kudos to the individual Border Force employees who have a difficult job having to stand up to the world #1’s). Apparently, the local state, Victoria State, had granted him an exemption to the vaccine requirement so that he could attempt to become the winningest Grand Slam player in history by winning the Australia Open. But the paperwork for the state and the country seemed to be different.


I am not going to get into the debate because I don’t know all the facts. Maybe he just made a mistake and forgot to get the correct paperwork to enter the country. (He must have some legitimate reasons for a vaccine exemption if the State granted him an exemption, and hopefully this is not just about the fact that he is a headliner, and we all know what that means in the world of sport.) But don’t you think that if you have the smarts to be #1 in the world at a sport, or if you are estimated to be worth $220 million (according to celebritynetworth.com), you would be smart enough to either check your visa documents and/or your correct medical exemption form a few times or at least hire someone to do it for you? Or be smart enough to know that Australia has had some of the strictest COVID restrictions and make sure that you actually have the proper medical exemption for the country, not just the state and the tennis tournament? (Heck, when we travelled just within Canada in the fall, we checked all passports, COVID visas, vaccine passes, COVID tests, etc., at least six times and have at least four copies of all documents, hard copy and electronic because, you know, poverty children are never good enough.)


As the saga unfolds, people are taking sides. Some people (including Australians who have endured lockdowns and some other tennis professionals) are royally ticked that there might be a double standard (!). Others, including some players, are backing him. But, if he is trying to get into Australia by working around their vaccine rules or working around the required paperwork, this is beyond confidence in one's ability and successes. This boils down to arrogance – the thought that you can circumvent the rules, that you deserve special handling because you are somebody. And then express shock and disdain that you are being held to the standards of the average person.


Even if he was granted legitimate medical exemption by a State, why did he not simply acquire the necessary medical exemption for the country, and all would be ducky? Maybe he is just so used to doors opening for him, that he miscalculated the Australia Border Force.


So, the Associated Press reported that he now has a hearing scheduled for early next week. Apparently this is fast-tracked as some people being detained have waited a much longer period before a hearing is scheduled. Another sign of double standards? Money and status talk.



What is so painful about all of this is that some people are at the top of the world in so many ways (financially, status, hero-worship) while the rest of the world falls somewhere beneath, not to mention that 696 million of the world’s population live in true poverty (worldpopulationreview.com) and cannot even fathom living such a privileged lifestyle. This makes me think that when you are #1, the onus is on you to do the right thing and double check your "i's" and "t's". The 'have nots' of the world are watching.


So, we all make our decisions. It is not up to me to judge what your choices are in any sphere of life, but live by the consequences of your choices, be humble, and follow the rules.


So, if Novak Djokovic made a mistake regarding his medical exemption for Australia, he is still being given preferential treatment by having a hearing scheduled so soon because he is a 'star'. (If there ever was a time for equal treatment, it is now, during COVID, which has brought about so many hard feelings and sadnesses and divisions.)


If he is truly trying to bend the rules just a bit for himself (and, again, this is still before the authorities, so we don't know), maybe the country of Australia won’t let him in, and he can wait another year to become even more #1. Or, maybe they will let him in, and grant him another 'exemption' for not having the right paperwork, and the fans show a negative uproar, and someone such as young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime beats him out in the first round – that would be some comeuppance, as my old grandma used to say.


In any event, it's all a dog's breakfast.







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