Weekly Digest #72
Updated: Jan 14
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In this digest-
1. Article - No-Vax Djokovic: The Visa Saga- Explained
2. Happiness Quotient from around the world
3. Did you Know?
4. This week in history
5. Entertainment Quotient
No-Vax Djokovic: The Visa Saga- Explained
By: Agastya Rao
(Note this is a developing story- we will update to include major changes. This info is as of 7pm on 14th January 2021)
The one song Novak Djokovic is definitely not singing right now is “ My Shot” (From Hamilton”). Because unlike Alexander Hamilton, he very nearly threw away his shot- both for the Covid-19 Vaccine and his chance of crowning himself as the world’s best tennis player by winning his 21st Grand Slam.
I consider myself a fan of tennis , and closely follow both the ATP and WTA tours. I had a lot of respect for the man who has been crowned year end number one single’s tennis player for 7 years, and a man who holds a 989 wins- 199 losses record. This respect fell several notches the day I learned that Mr Djokovic is an Anti- Vaxxer.
I did my best to overlook the massive mess he made with the Adria tour (a tennis tournament created by him which led to a super spreader event) and closely watched the man win 3 Grand Slams in 2021. However, he has made it clear that he is an Anti Vaxxer. Overlooking that and focusing purely on his talent, he is a great tennis player. But the 21st Grand Slams that he has been gunning for these past few years may be slipping away from him all because of a single problem…
You see, recently, Novak Djokovic flew to Australia to compete in the Australian Open based on a “medical exemption” given to him by Tennis Australia. As the latest news informs us, due to his unvaccinated status, he has been holed up in a detention center by the Australian Border Force, and is apparently being treated badly. At the time of publishing this Digest, we have learnt that a Judge has just now quashed the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa. This could mean he gets to participate in the Australian Open after all, but the deeper questions concerning his refusal to take the vaccine remain. Before we get into this, we need…
The Australian Open-
One of the biggest tennis tournaments of the year, and one which Mr Djokovic has won a whopping 9 times is set to begin on the 17th of January of this year. The stakes at this tournament are as high as they can get, with the reward of more than 3 Million US Dollars for the winner and a place in the history books.
Now the only way people are permitted to participate in the Australian Open is if they have taken both doses of the Covid-19 Vaccine. While most participating tennis players have been vaccinated, there are a select few who have not taken the Covid-19 Vaccine. AND, you need to be vaccinated to enter Australia in the first place.
Now, this is where the story starts to get murky. Tennis Australia (The Tennis Governing Body in Australia) granted a “medical exemption” to Novak Djokovic and 2 other tennis players to take part in the Australian Open without a Covid-19 Vaccine. However, when Mr Djokovic landed in Australia, he was promptly detained by the Australian Border Force. Why? Because his Visa did not approve the “medical exemption” that he had been granted.
The Medical Exemption-
In order to get one of the medical exemptions granted to Mr Djokovic, one has to have either-
1. An acute health condition (Which he doesn’t appear to suffer from), or
2. Have a valid medical reason for not being eligible for vaccination, for instance, because of been infected with the Covid-19 virus in the last six months (Which he supposedly had, but, read more to know why this is a bit dodgy in his case).
Djokovic’s legal team has presented an argument stating that he received a medical exemption on the grounds that he tested positive for Covid on [16th December 2021], thereby fulfilling the second criteria. However, there are photos of Djokovic appearing in public, without a mask on, at an event [Postal Stamp ceremony in his name, in Belgrade]. (More on this later)
What is worse, he stood close to many people at that event, sans mask. The question now arises - did he actually test positive for Covid and was brazen enough to put others’ health at risk by attending the event, or did he not have a Covid infection at all? Was this supposed covid infection mentioned merely to fit into the medical exemption category? I must admit that neither of these scenarios makes Djokovic appear to be a decent global citizen.
Having said this, Tennis Australia permitted the exemption in his case, and the Australian Government granted him a visa. To revoke the visa after his arrival in the country, citing a breach of visa requirements, has catapulted this whole matter almost into an international diplomatic incident. Read on to know more.
Part 2- The Park Hotel and the Case for Novak Djokovic
Mr Djokovic (The world’s number 1 Tennis player and holder of 20 Grand Slams) was being kept in a detention center called the Park Hotel along with countless illegal immigrants. It has also been reported that the conditions at the centre are not great, and a while ago the residents reported maggots in their food. Another fact worth noting is the fact that while the small rooms available do have windows, they can’t be opened.
It is also worth noting, that after the recent uproar about the arrest of Mr Djokovic, another tennis player who had also received an exemption to play in the tournament Mrs Renata Voracavoa AND had recovered from Covid-19 just before christmas of 2021, had her Visa revoked, and was taken to the same detention centre as Mr Djokovic.
Coincidence? I think not. I believe that it was just another way to “justify” what is currently being done to Mr Djokovic. Infact, former world number 1 Andy Murray went on to say that how Mr Djokovic is being treated is a really bad look for tennis. In the end it was Tennis Australia who gave him the exemption, and it was approved and he flew all the way to Australia to play at a tournament which he has won 9 TIMES.
But overlooking all of this, the worst thing they actually have done is treat Mr Djokovic badly. Before being a Grand Slam winning athlete, he is a HUMAN. Yet, he was holed up in a “hotel/ detention centre” where windows don’t open,but he also had his phone taken away from him when he first landed at the airport and was apparently “treated like a prisoner” according to Djokovic’s mother. Also coming out in support of Novak Djokovic was Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic who called Novak a “victim of a Political Witch Hunt”.
So why in the world did Tennis Australia give them an exemption, when the Australian Government would detain the tennis players or revoke their visas (deport them)? Is Mr Djokovic really at fault here?
When Novak Djokovic challenged his deportation, and took the matter to court. The world was watching. And as for now, things seem to have tipped in Mr Djokovic’s favour- A judge delayed his deportation even further, which does seem to improve things for Novak here. The Judge even went on to say that it seemed as though Mr Djokovic had fulfilled the necessary requirements to obtain said exemption, he asked lawyers representing the Australian Government “ what more could he have done?” The Judge further went on to accept the case proposed by Djokovic’s lawyers and said that there was evidence of Djokovic being pressured during an interview/interrogation with the police.
Djokovic’s lawyers argued using his recent Covid-19 infection, and stated that Djokovic has fulfilled all requirements set forth by Tennis Australia. They also argued on the grounds of unfair treatment that he went through at the airport. Could a technicality tip the case in Djokovic's favour? Djokovic’s lawyers further substantiated their arguments by stating that the Department of Home Affairs of Australia said that Djokovic had fulfilled the requirements to travel without quarantine in Australia.
BREAKING NEWS: Novak Djokovic's Visa has been revoked (Again) by the Australian Government and he will be detained on the 15th of January and he is to be interviewed by the Australian Border Force. Luckily for Djokovic, his appeal shall be heard in court.
How has the tennis world responded?
The tennis world is currently divided, with many believing that Djokovic is at fault, and with the other half believing that it is Tennis Australia and the Australian government who are at fault.
While Former World Number 1 and Current World Number 6 ranked Rafael Nadal said,
“I think if he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem. He made his own decisions, and everybody's free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences. Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.” - (Via The Guardian)
However, World Number 93 and Australian Tennis player Nick Kyrgios took a different stance, where he supported Novak and lambasted his critics saying,
“I’m not siding. The guy is a human, I just want him to be treated like one. Would we expect our [Australia's] 20-time Grand Slam champion to be treated like this? No.”
It is also interesting to note that in the Australian Open 2021, Nick Kyrgios called Djokovic a tool (Via USA Today).
The Case against Novak Djokovic
Firstly, as much as it is still not a compulsory requirement in almost every country to take the Covid-19 vaccine, as far as Djokovic is concerned, does him being a role model for millions create an obligation on him to take the Covid-19 vaccine?
In my opinion, Yes. Now I am not saying we should force people to take the Covid-19 vaccine, but events like the Australian Open are free to specify a vaccine pre-requisite since they have multiple players participating. Science and research as of today supports the cause of the vaccine as one of the biggest factors in saving people from hospitalization and death due to the Covid-19 virus. The vaccine may be our best weapon to fight Covid-19 right now!
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious disease and Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the USA said, “Please get vaccinated. It will protect you against the surging of the pandemic…” and highly recommended getting the Covid-19 Vaccine.
Countless other doctors and medical professionals have recommended taking the Covid-19 vaccine. With Australia surpassing1 Million covid cases, with a massive 50% of them being logged in the week from 1-7th January.
Rafael Nadal has strongly voiced his opinion about the vaccine and has said that people should get it. The thing about us humans is, there is a reason that celebrities feature in advertisements and that is because when a celebrity talks, people listen. It doesn’t have to be an actor or a pop star, but even an athlete. People believe most of what a celebrity says. So it is unfortunate for people in a position to influence the lives and health of millions, such as Novak Djokovic, to adopt an anti-vaccine position at a time when the disease is wreaking havoc.
Secondly, I would like to state that he has an obligation to not only the people of Australia but to his fellow tennis players and staff and volunteers who are part of the Australian Open as well. He will be in close contact with them, he may sign autographs and interact with children and adults- which means that if others like him who are unvaccinated are allowed the same privilege, they could very seriously be endangering the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people.
While it is too early to comment on the merits of the judicial decision that allowed Djokovic’s visa to be valid, at the end of the day, when Djokovic sits down and takes a look at all his achievements, I would say that out of all the Grand Slams and titles and records he has created and won, his greatest achievement should be- setting a bigger example.
By: Abhimanyu Rao
1. Who can forget the heart wrenching images of Afghan citizens clamouring to Kabul airport trying to escape the Taliban? In particular, the image of a tiny baby being handed over to a US soldier across the barbed wire perimeter of Kabul Airport is one that is haunting. In the happiest of happy developments, the little baby has been found and will hopefully soon be reunited with his parents in the USA. He was being raised by an Afghan taxi driver. Some hopeful news from a country that has seen the worst possible war and suffering.
2. Plastic pollution has been one of the worst calamities to occur in recent years. From the sight of plastic bags floating around every corner, to the heartbreaking pictures of sea creatures with plastic wrapped around them, several people have grown to hate plastic. Unfortunately, plastic is just too convenient to fully eradicate from our lives, as there are several purposes for it. Britain-based Nopla understands this dilemma, and has therefore created a plastic replacement made out of seaweed! Nopla’s products can be composted, dissolved in water, and some are even edible! This is a monumental step in clearing up the plastic cluttering up our world!
3. A clouded leopard was spotted in Nagaland recently! These leopards are considered vulnerable species by the IUCN. These leopards are relatively recluse, and are therefore hard to document. This sighting is one of the few that is encouraging zoologists to further document these creatures, so that we can keep track of their populations, and prevent extinction!
4. Happy Earth news alert! The world's first “Rewilding center” is almost ready for opening, and will open before 2022 is over! This is a project that is creating a micro-ecosystem that houses around 4000 species of flora and fauna! At 10,000 acres, this project is no small endeavor, but a preview of what the world is probably going to work towards in the near future!
5. British Army officer Preet Chandi became the first woman of colour to complete an expedition to the south pole, alone! She underwent several weeks of gruelling training, and traveled to the south pole in icy weather that reached -50 degrees celsius! She is clearly an inspiration to people around the globe! Furthermore, she is the perfect example to show that factors like race and gender don’t define your success, on the contrary, factors like perseverance and dedication do!
By: Mihir Rao
1 . Dogs are smarter than you think! When 18 furry test subjects were put in an MRI machine and read to in different languages, they actually responded differently to nonsensical words than they did to normal languages. Even though 2 dogs were used to hearing Spanish and the other 16 were used to Hungarian, all the dogs had much stronger brain activity for nonsensical words! This goes to show that our furry friends may understand us better than we think!
2 . Omar Sartawi, a Jordanian food artist, makes luxury handbags, with orange peels! First, he buys the peels, and processes them until he gets the desired material. Then, he cuts the shape he needs using a laser, and finally, he assembles the handbag. Using the peels to make the handbags, he is trying to be more environmentally friendly! You could even say that he is trying to be more green, using orange!
3 .The mysteries of an ancient computer (yes, an ancient computer) found in Greece have been solved recently! The world’s oldest analogue computer called the Antikythera, was apparently used to track eclipses and astronomical positions, which is amazing! But, just like how we use our computers also for recreational purposes, they used the Antikythera to trace the cycle of the Olympic Games! This is very interesting, since it gives even more proof to the fact that ancient civilisations were very intelligent!
4 . On the 5th of January. The Hubble telescope passed the 1 billion second mark of being in space! The telescope, in space for roughly 31 years, has provided us with amazing pictures that give us much more insight into the inner workings of space. Hopefully, we will have more out of the world milestones like this in the future!
This week in 1933 marked the beginning of the construction of San Francisco’s breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge!(January 5th)
The 6th of January brought us the first anniversary of the dreadful Capitol riots (which you can read about in Weekly Digest #27)
Astronomers cherished the 7th of January as the anniversary of Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s four biggest moons, Ganymede, Callisto, Io, and Europa, which are listed in descending order of size.
Entertainment quotient for the week:
14 Peaks : Nothing is impossible
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Visit The Chinappa Channel to see some quirky but nice videos that will make you roll with laughter
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