ROTHENBURGER: Tennis saga shows rich and powerful don’t always win


An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

FOR SHEER VICARIOUS ENTERTAINMENT it would be hard to beat the drama of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic that came to a dramatic finale on Sunday.

The Number One player in the world was sent packing from Australia but not before a week and a half of tense developments during which he complained of being treated like a “criminal.”

It all had to do with the fact he hasn’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 and has no intention of being vaccinated. He thought he should be allowed to play in the Australian Open — the first major tournament of the year — because he’s already been through a case of COVID himself.

The rationale was reminiscent of our own COVID drama last year when Kamloops City councillor Denis Walsh refused to get the jab because he’d already had the virus and was, and is, convinced that it provided him with immunity. (Walsh still hasn’t been vaccinated and attends council meetings online.)

First, Djokovic was rejected by Australian authorities, then he won an appeal,  then the Aussie government revoked his visa again, then he appealed again, then another judge upheld the order against him in a tiebreak. The end result — he’s gone.

The saga resulted in a bit of a diplomatic crisis between Australia and Serbia, with the latter calling the treatment of Djokovic — now known as No-Vaxx Djokovic — “a farce” and “scandalous.”

Not since the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand has Serbia been so much in the news. But few in Australia are shedding a tear for the arrogant Djokovic — a poll shows two-thirds are happy to see him go and are just fine with his absence from the tournament.

If there’s a lesson for the rest of us in all this, it’s in the reaffirmation of the fact rules mean something, and that people with money and influence don’t always get away with doing what they want.

That certainly hasn’t always been the case in this pandemic.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9652 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on ROTHENBURGER: Tennis saga shows rich and powerful don’t always win

  1. Trevor Bohay // January 17, 2022 at 6:49 PM // Reply

    In your column, you attempt to make a pithy comment about the archduke of Ferdinand. Were you talking a nap during the Bosnian War Mel? Never mistake sarcasm for wit.

  2. Tennis saga also shows how irrational governments have become. This battle was not about the rich and powerful getting their way, it was more about an authoritarian government doubling down on inconsistent and irrational rules not based on science. Deporting Novak Djokovic was absolutely a political decision. It had nothing to do with public health.
    It’s dangerous to decide someone is a threat to your country just because of their “views”, their belief in natural immunity and the ability to think for themselves. The immigration minister agreed Djokovic had a valid exemption, but ruled his presence in the country would incite dissent, because he just may be perceived by many, to be an anti vaxxer, therefore he was declared a risk to civil order.
    It simply sends a message to others citizens they must be compliant to the demands of the state which include vaccines, or else. It also proves, if you are going to publicly challenge the authority of the state, public opinion matters, it’s not enough to just be right. Over 93% of Australians are vaccinated, with most having being coerced or forced, to be able to live life. This unnatural mass formation provokes a majority of those vaccinated to be resentful of any exemption for Djokovic, because they were not offered a similar exemption.
    The vilifying of the unvaccinated, a specific minority, has become a popular and acceptable trend. Apparently, something or someone has to take responsibility for the failures of public health officials to manage this pandemic.

    • “Over 93% of Australians are vaccinated, with most having being coerced or forced, to be able to live life. This unnatural mass formation provokes a majority of those vaccinated to be resentful of any exemption for Djokovic, because they were not offered a similar exemption.”

      Seriously Coun. Walsh?

      93% were coerced or forced?

      Do you attribute the same level of statistic on Canadians who chose vaccination? A reinterpretation of a statistic like that to serve your own talking points, is at the least telling and at at worst, egregious.

      I would probably fall into your statistic of being among the numbers forced or coerced, but I wasnt. On day one, I was ready for the jab, because I already knew and understood the value of vaccinations scientifically … but still had to wait over 9 months.

      I wanted it to protect myself primarily from serious disease, but then I was in agreement of it being in my communities best interest for me to receive it and the follow up boosters, with the priority to protect others. The vaccine receivers I know, and from what we hear the vast, vast majority of our society would mirror my own kind of decision making process. None of these people were coerced or manipulated, they just knew their own needs and their duties to others.

      Your twisting it to appear that the masses were/are ‘forced or coerced’ is incorrect, ludicrous and inappropriate. It reads that you see us all as nothing more than mindless sheep. A dangerous belief, considering you need our vote.

      Furthermore, this massive majority also are not somehow ‘provoked’ to be resentful of an exemption for Djokovic BECAUSE ‘they were not offered a similar exemption’, they are resentful because he attempted to skirt the rules, full stop. He broke the travel rules and did not respect the rules as in place in their own country. This was not a ‘political decision’, it was a legal decision. As our courts are, Australian courts follow the rule of law as written, without political interference. Are you actually calling out the Australian legal system as demagogic, dictatorial or party run?

      Djokovic then backed that up by spouting the same garbage antivax rhetoric you are, and people resent that all on its own which has damaged his credibility. It has nothing to do with a celebrity athlete 1%’r feeling they should be auto-exempt, except that the people obviously think … ‘no you shouldnt, you are no better than I’. Australians are happy he left … and thats all.

      Finally, our vaccinated vs unvaccinated admittance to hospital and ICU’s … those are real stats … says all it needs to say about antivax vilification. The unvaccinated are harming our healthcare system by the unvaxxed overuse of these same systems. People dont like sliver sized populations screwing up their services, and thats exactly what they have done.

      You really need to stop publicly commenting on this issue. Your endless sputtering of severely rhetorical reinterpretations of scientific fact and misunderstandings of the worlds societal acceptance of the reality we live in, are alienating you from your own community, damaging the optics of council and putting final nails in the coffin of your reelection. Believe what you will privately, but know that in the conversation in open society, you are entirely on your own.

      • I must be clear, I really like Denis and side with him on very many issues. However in this case I do not at all agree with him. While I do consider his opinion I wholeheartedly agree with you David and find your response very appropriate.

  3. If is alao a lesson in fame posing as power, with no substance…

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