After the Peng scandal, Djokogate? Not at all. Peng Shuai is a Chinese tennis player, one of the best in the world on the women’s tour just a few years back, now a prisoner of the Red Chinese.
They do not like that she accused a Communist Party big, who happens to have a wife who is not Miss Peng, of being a sex maniac and predator, and that, specifically, she was his victim some years ago. The authorities in China claim she retracted her accusation; it is correct that in December she told Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore’s major Chinese-language paper, that she had been misunderstood. Lianhe Zaobao is known to follow a pro-CCP editorial line. She has not spoken with other journalists or anyone in the tennis establishment.
While surely an open mind must be kept at all times, the affair has the marks of, as used to be said during the Cold War, the naked face of totalitarian communistic atheism, with terrorized “witnesses” saying to the outside world what their minders and warders demand of them. We are more polite now, either because the Dems are in charge or because, as Professor F. Schell explained in a must-read article in these pages recently, the commies bought us all off. You want proof? Check the label on your tennis pants.
Novak Djokovic, by contrast, is today’s top male player in the world, and we can trust he speaks out without coercion or fear of retribution. He has been threatened with expulsion from Australia, where he arrived last week to prepare for the Australian Open, on account that he is not, at least certifiably, vaxxed. Him’s the Aaron Rodgers of tennis.
Now the Aussies have strict rules about unvaxxed visitors from far and near. They may be overdoing it, but the rules’re on the books, mates, and you play by them or you sit down. Djokovic is at present sitting in a hotel room awaiting the result of his legal appeal to the ruling. He had a medical exemption approved by Tennis Australia and the state of Victoria in whose top city, Melbourne, the tournament takes place. Several other players obtained the exemption likewise. Their cases were examined by a “blind” medical panel, that is on their merits without reference to whose cases they were; the possibility is that Djokovic’s dossier showed a history with asthma, which may be a valid reason to beware of an anti-pulmonary virus vax, but I am not a doctor.
Djokovic’s medical exemption was noticed by the federal authorities, who overruled Tennis Australia and Victoria. They took a hard rules-are-rules line, for law applies to one and all (unlike in China, where Miss Peng’s alleged aggressor, one Zhang Gaoli — age 75, which would make him an old lecher as well as a perv — apparently avoided any sanction even though on paper the Chicoms are rather puritanical about extramarital sexual comradeship). But in our age of “communication,” they could not have been unaware there was a backlash in public opinion when Djokovic happily announced on “social” media that he was on his way. Australians love tennis and tennis players (also rugby), but they were not amused in this case, seeing as how Australia has had one of the toughest anti-virus lockdown policies since the beginning of the pandemic.
The tennis world reacted with one voice to the Peng case; indeed Djokovic was among those who expressed support for her and demanded an explanation. Many supported the position of WTA boss Steve Simon to withdraw the women’s tour from China-located tournaments, despite the high cost to the tennis business. (Frank Schell, take heart!)
In the medical exemption case, unanimity is not there. Certain players, including some top ones, expressed the thought that maybe rules are indeed rules and they themselves might not have been granted a pass quite so readily if at all, as Tennis Australia gave to its main attraction. Djokovic himself maintains that whether or not he is vaxxed and what his actual factual medical issues are or are not is his own business.
Like so much else in a free country, there’s the possibility of legal recourse, which Djokovic awaits, but due to the noise, whatever the outcome, some will say politics unblinded law. Who — or what — rules the court, that is the question: the public clamor, the law above which no man stands, or some other force? Blessed are we who have such dilemmas, compared to Miss Peng and the people of Hong Kong and Taiwan and the Uyghurs and so many more, forced to bend to force alone.