Rafael Nadal: Djokovic ‘knew the conditions since a lot of months ago’

TENNIS : Australian Open 2021

You can love, hate or be indifferent to Rafael Nadal, but please give him credit for being flawless in his pandemic and vaccine messaging. Nadal understood the severity of the pandemic early on – Bill Gates told him in February 2020 that all hell was about to break loose – and he spent a huge chunk of 2020 isolating with his wife in Spain. Before there were vaccines, he social-distanced and wore masks everywhere, and encouraged everyone to do the same. He got vaccinated as soon as he was able, and he encouraged his countrymen and his fans to do the same. Throughout the pandemic, he’s also kept his focus on the people who were and are actually suffering and dying too. He got a case of breakthrough Covid in December, but he recovered within a few weeks, and he’s currently playing a tune-up event in Melbourne before the Australian Open. After Rafa won his first single match at the tune-up event, he was asked about the situation with Novak Djokovic, who is unvaccinated and likely to be deported from Australia.

Rafael Nadal has said he felt sorry that Novak Djokovic was denied entry into Australia, but there his sympathy ended, as the Spaniard pointedly added that if players were vaccinated, they could play in the Australian Open.

“I went through the Covid, I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here. That’s the only clear thing. The only… clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion have been suffering enough to not follow the rules.

“He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences,” he added of Djokovic. “Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him. I don’t encourage nobody. Everyone has to do what they feel is good for them but there are rules and without the vaccine there can be some troubles. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision. The only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine says, and if those people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine.”

“Of course what’s happening is not good for Novak, in my opinion,” the Spaniard added. “[But] if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open. We have been going through very challenging [time]. A lot of families have been suffering in the last three years. It’s normal that people here in Australia get very frustrated with the case because they have been going through all of very hard times.

“A lot of people were not able to come back home, so from my point of view I believe in what the people who know about medicine say. If the people say we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here.”

[From The Guardian & The Independent]

The thing that kills me is that six months ago, barely half of the tennis tour was fully vaccinated. There were so many people pulling this anti-vaxx crap. But when the Australian Open announced their vaccine mandate, players realized their livelihoods were on the line, and almost all of them got vaccinated in the off-season specifically so they could play in Australia without drama. But not Novak. Novak’s stubbornness works for him as an athlete in an individual sport, but holy sh-t, it makes him horrible in these kinds of situations. Anyway, I like what Rafa says here – there’s some sympathy extended to Novak and the chaotic situation he finds himself in, but ultimately Rafa is clear: Novak knew that he needed to get vaccinated to come to Australia. So here we are.

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Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Getty.

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23 Responses to “Rafael Nadal: Djokovic ‘knew the conditions since a lot of months ago’”

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  1. TIFFANY says:

    I really thought he was gonna both side it, but naw, the point was made.

  2. Sarah says:

    His comments were just mentioned on the hourly radio news and I love him for them.

  3. Ennie says:

    Antivaxxers are going mad on social media. I cannot.

  4. Plu says:

    Rafa’s comments were spot on. Couldn’t have said it any better

  5. Amy Bee says:

    He’s absolutely right.

  6. Penelope says:

    This. I don’t even know why he got an exemption in the first place. The rules are clear, everyone else followed them, and there is no legitimate reason to not get vaccinated. The College of Physicians and Surgeons where I live sent a letter to every single doctor in the province that said anyone giving a medical exemption to the vaccine would be investigated, because there are no medical reasons that support an exemption. Had a bad reaction in the past? Get it at the hospital. Taking IV medication for cancer or MS? Still no exemption (but you may have to postpone it temporarily).

    My doctor copied the letter and put it on the wall in every single exam room. “I won’t even entertain the conversation,” he told me. “Not that anyone has asked me since I put up the letter.”

    My friend told me one of her coworkers bragged about how she had to go to 5 different doctors before one would give her an exemption. I was like “yeah I’d forward a copy of that letter to the College.”

  7. Elvie says:

    Huge Ra-fan here and Nadal has been clear this whole time. People are suffering, people are dying, so listen to medical professionals and get vaccinated. Holding out hope for a successful clay season.

  8. TigerMcQueen says:

    I’ve always loved Rafa, and now I love him even more.

    Vamos Rafa!

  9. Sof says:

    There’s videos of him saying hi to people but refusing to sign autographs to maintain social distance.
    What Nadal says is true, but now I’m wondering if the tournament organization had anything to do with Djokovic trying to enter the country regardless, was he promissed exclusive treatment by the tournament organizers?

  10. jferber says:

    I love Rafa now, though I don’t even watch tennis. Novak chose to be an asshole and, fortunately, he paid the price. I think the situation blew up because Novak bragged on social media that he got a medical exemption just before he flew to Australia. The whole country was outraged and even the prime minister, who was up for re-election, knew which way the wind was blowing and made a powerful speech that there is no special treatment for Novak and he “would be sent home on the next plane.” The prime minister ABSOLUTELY did the right thing. This country needs to get a backbone about COVID.

  11. Izzy says:

    Preach, Rafa.

  12. Becks1 says:

    His comments are spot on. Djokovic knew the rules, he knew the conditions for playing in the Australian open, he just thought that he would be able to get an exemption and that would be that and there was no way they wouldn’t let him play. What the hell is the point of having rules if you make exceptions because you want one of the best players there? Just say that the players ranked 1-5 or whatever don’t have to be vaccinated, because that’s what it seems like the Open was saying.

    If he wanted to play in the AO, he should have gotten vaccinated. Its not discrimination or whatever else people are saying. It’s his choice to get vaccinated or not, but choices have consequences.

  13. Jan says:

    Novac🙂 picked the worst time to try his power move, elections are coming up in Australia and the people are pissed about his preferential treatment, when they have relatives that could not come home for almost 2 years.
    I like the hot potato, the PM trying to pawn it off to the local Government and their reply was, they don’t control the borders.

    • Laalaa says:

      So interesting. “novac” in serbian (and many other slavenic languages” means “money”.

  14. libellule says:

    I really liked what he said there. I was never a fan of him as a player but as a person he seems great.

  15. jferber says:

    Jan, yes to all you said. But the PM did do the right thing (despite why) and that is all that counts in my book.

  16. anniefannie says:

    Who in the world is on the fence about Rafa Nadal?!? Love, love, love him on the court and off. For a day brightener google his Tommy
    Hilfiger campaign!

    • mimic says:

      Seriously! He is such a sweetheart both on and off the court, gracious and professional in every way. LOVE him!

  17. Michelle says:

    Key word there… consequences. Accept them for your own decisions.

  18. Ksweet says:

    I admire Novak as a player, but he is clearly wrong here to expect special treatment. It feels really good to see the Australian government be fair in NOT making Novak a privileged case. Rafa was diplomatic but firm in his comments, and I admire him very much for speaking up for science and fairness.

  19. Jennica says:

    So – truly curious from those here and Kaiser- what’s negative about Rafa? If you’ve got dirt – spill! Would love to know. Myself, I’ve been a tennis fan for decades and haven’t really heard much about Rafa…other than the “OH MY GOD MAN WEAR SOME BOXERS SO YOU DON’T PICK YOUR WEDGIES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION”. Now, he’s no Andy Murray outspoken feminist activist (bless his cotton socks), but I’ve not heard much bad about Rafa. Also – to be clear: Joker’s a certified privileged twat with gnats for brain cells so I’m all on board with the schadenfreude around his AUS expulsion (massive happy dance).