The social contract needed in a pandemic relies on fairness. Revoking the tennis player’s visa is an attempt to retain that
After a week of controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic’s right to stay in Australia and compete in the Australian Open, the tennis star has now had his visa revoked again. The Djokovic case has several legal and medical aspects to it, but it has also fast become a symbolic battle between those who support coronavirus vaccination and restrictions on travel, and those who oppose them.
The importance of his case needs to be understood in terms of its effect on public health and behaviour. Djokovic’s actions alone were always unlikely to have a significant impact on Australia’s Covid case rates. Furthermore, an athlete in his thirties (such as Djokovic) is, statistically speaking, unlikely to become seriously ill with the virus, and so is individually unlikely to strain Australia’s healthcare system.
Stuart Mills is a fellow in behavioural science at the London School of Economics