This is the second time in a matter of months that tennis has found itself at the center of an international dispute. The disappearance in November of the Chinese player Peng Shuai, after she publicly accused a former senior government official of sexual assault, renewed concern about China’s human rights record and has cast a shadow over the Beijing Winter Olympics, which begin in three weeks. In the case of Peng, the tennis community came together to demand proof of her safety and well-being, and the response has become a source of pride for the sport.
Not so for the Djokovic affair, which is purely an embarrassment. While it appears that bureaucratic bungling is at least partly to blame, Djokovic has been the architect of his own troubles. He submitted a visa application that included incorrect and possibly misleading information, and had the temerity to show up unvaccinated in a country that has endured some of the world’s strictest Covid-19 lockdowns and that is sagging under the Omicron variant. At the very least, Djokovic’s approach suggested insensitivity, although his critics, whose numbers are growing by the hour, are more inclined to see it as callous indifference. His recent admission that he had gone ahead with an interview with a French journalist in December after supposedly contracting the coronavirus has caused especially intense outrage. (The reporter said that Djokovic did not disclose that he had tested positive.)
Whether it was miscalculation, arrogance or some combination of the two that led Djokovic to think he could show up in Melbourne unvaccinated and just play, he now finds himself isolated in the tennis world. Few players have publicly supported him. The former world No. 1 Martina Navratilova said that she had always spoken up for Djokovic and felt that he got “a raw deal” from fans who were hostile to him. But not now.
“I’ve been defending Novak for many years,” she said, “but I cannot defend him on this one.”
Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/15/sports/tennis/novak-djokovic-australian-open.html359