Novak Djokovic’s ill fated trip to Australian Open - A study in perspectives
"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." — Marcus Aurelius
This is the first part of a two part series where we will be discussing the power of perspectives (this article) and key to developing broader understanding (the second part) which is an integral part of a manager’s job.
I should start with full disclosure, or rather I should say, my perspective - I believe in science and I believe in vaccines. Let’s tackle this blog as an open minded exercise in reading and understanding (and not judging) different perspectives.
Brief timeline and key moments
Perspectives from Novak Djokovic, ATP Players, Tournament Organizers, Government Bodies, Politicians, and Media Personnels across the World
Novak Djokovic, ATP World #1- Anti-vax sentiments
April 2020, "opposed to vaccination". Later clarified his position by adding that he was "no expert" and would keep an "open mind" but wanted to have "an option to choose what's best for my body."
During a Facebook live, he explained that he "wouldn't want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine" to travel or compete in tournaments.
He added that he was "curious about wellbeing and how we can empower our metabolism to be in the best shape to defend against imposters like Covid-19."
Novak Djokovic, ATP World #1 - Privacy concerns
“I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry.
“People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person. Whatever you say ‘Yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it’, they will take advantage.”
Australian Open tournament organizers, Tournament director Craig Tiley - Medical exemption
“Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts. One of those was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health.”
Djokovic isn’t the only player to have been granted a medical exemption, that “a handful” of others had but declined to say how many.
Peter Bodo, Senior Editor/Blogger at Tennis Magazine. - Media heat turns on
NOVAK DJOKOVIC HAS SPENT HIS CAREER TRYING TO CURRY FAVOR WITH THE PUBLIC. HE’S EARNED AN A FOR EFFORT—UNTIL NOW
The 20-time Grand Slam champion has crossed a clear line in the sand.
Judge Kelly, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory (Australia) - Judge shows empathy and identifies with Novak’s perspective
"Can I ask you to pause here? … that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given, was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government. And that document was in the hands of the delegate. The point I'm somewhat agitated about is what more could this man have done?"
Spokesperson for Interior Ministry of Spain - Spain denies it’s probing Djokovic for entering without COVID vaccine
“The news is false. Neither the government has ordered it nor is there any police investigation open on the athlete.”
Stefano Tsitsipas, ATP World #4 - Media attention on Djokovic is leaving some players feel bitter
"A very small minority chose to follow their own way. It makes the majority look like fools.”
Minister Alex Hawke, Australian Liberal Party politician serving as Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs - Public interest rationale for re-cancelling Djokovic’s visa
"His behaviour may encourage/influence others to emulate his prior conduct & fail to comply w appropriate health measures following a +ve COVID test which itself could lead to transmission of the disease & serious risk to their health/others.”
Miomir Kecmanović, ATP World #77 - Feeling grateful to Novak
“I am affected by everything, because I will always be grateful to Novak for his support and unselfishness in helping me. He always has the energy to share his knowledge and experience. If I win my 1R match, I will dedicate that win to Novak.”
Dusan Lajovic, ATP World #39 - On wrongfulness of treatment and decision
I think the way they treated him was terribly wrong. I think the decision itself was terribly wrong, and also the reason why they did it is also for me terribly wrong because based on just an idea, I don't think it's the right way.
Laslo Djere, ATP World #353 - Feeling lost on what went wrong
We were told that we can enter the country with an exemption, which he had, and yet he's not here with us. Something went horribly wrong.
Peter Bodo, Senior Editor/Blogger at Tennis Magazine. - Labeling Novak’s legacy tarnished
His actions were so selfish, so tone deaf, so indifferent to the feelings of millions who have suffered through the pandemic, that it’s difficult to see him winning back the esteem he earned over the past few years.
Rafael Nadal, ATP World#5 - On decisions and consequences, and plight of Australian Open
"In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lots of months ago, so he makes his own decision. If he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem. He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences."
"The Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he's playing, finally, OK. If he's not playing, the Australian Open will be a great Australian Open, with or without him. That's my point of view."
Nick Kyrgios, ATP World#115 - Appealing to take a human approach
"... but how we are handling Novak's situation is bad, really bad,"
"... this is one of our great champions but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better."
John Isner, ATP World#24 - Shameful situation
"What Novak is going through right now is not right. There's no justification for the treatment he's receiving. He followed the rules, was allowed to enter Australia, and now he's being detained against his own will. This is such a shame."
Vasek Pospisil, ATP World#133 - Why Djokovic traveled to Australia
"Novak would never have gone to Australia if he had not been given an exemption to enter the country by the government (which he did receive; hence Judge Kelly's initial ruling)”
CEO of QuantBioRes - Co-founder and majority stakeholder
Djokovic has 80% stake in biotech firm developing Covid treatment, and says tennis star is ‘not anti-vax’
Ana Brnabić, Serbian prime minister - Scandalous and contradictory decisions
“I think the court decision is scandalous … I find it unbelievable that we have two completely contradictory court decisions within the span of just a few days. I am disappointed … I think it demonstrated how the rule of law is functioning – or better to say not functioning – in some other countries.”
Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ukrainian former professional tennis player - Politics vs. common sense
“It's sad when politics wins over common sense”
Novak Djokovic, ATP World #1 - Respect, discomfort and love
"I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country. I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love. I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament."
I’m sure there will be many more perspectives we are yet to hear for this story, but I’ll pause here. Below are some of the references I’ve used for my research on this topic. Stay tuned for the second part where we will talk about understanding increasingly complex and nuanced (and noisy!) world.