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Tennis the menace: Djokovic’s a lot of things, but he’s no ...

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Tennis the menace: Djokovic’s a lot of things, but he’s no freedom fighter

Anti-vaxxers like the Serbian tennis star are a minority that’s shrinking fast as the world get fed up with holdouts

Tim Culpan and David Fickling

Novak Djokovic may yet defend his Australian Open tennis title, but he’s not the freedom fighter many of his supporters believe.

As governments around the world struggle to guide their nations through a third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, tolerance for anti-vaxxers is waning. The uproar in Australia to news that a Melbourne court, over the objections of the federal government and immigration authorities, had cleared the Serb to enter the country without being vaccinated is not the bleating of a backward land at the far end of the world. Instead, it’s a sign that he really is among a global minority that’s shrinking by the day as the high-speed spread of the Omicron variant energises a new round of vaccinations.

Djokovic may have secured a win when the court quashed the cancellation of his visa. But it’s a Pyrrhic victory in the battle against science and the thousands of researchers developing and rolling out inoculations to protect global populations. The EU has about 80% of its adults fully immunised. Australia, which may yet deport Djokovic if the government decides to push the case further, has 91% of people 12 years and over fully vaccinated. Even in the US, where a misinformation campaign has deepened partisan divides over the response to Covid-19, more than 79% of the population aged five and older has had at least one dose...

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