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“Australia is rightly imposing the vaccine”… In tennis too, the time for pedagogy is over

Present in Paris for the Masters 1000 of Bercy which opens its doors on Saturday but not in Australia, Novak Djokovic? Ubuesque at first, the scenario gains in realism as the days and administrative decisions pass. The latest midweek clarification from Daniel Andrews, Premier of the state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, sounded the death knell for the unvaccinated. In the text: “We are excluding unvaccinated people from pubs, cafes, restaurants and the MCG [le grand stade de cricket de la ville] and all kinds of other events. »

A little long while a simple “Novak, you’re nice, but if you want to lift a 21st Grand Slam in Australia you will have to stretch your shoulders”. Because in case it has escaped you, the world number one is not frankly the most fervent defender of vaccination against Covid. Last year, he declared himself against it, adding in passing “I wouldn’t want to be forced to do so in order to be able to travel” (oops) and this year, he refuses to share his vaccination status: “It’s a private matter. It seems incredible to me that society is judging you by a vaccine. The uncertainty of a trip to Australia despite the importance of the tournament in a GOAT race that obsesses the Serb gives us an idea of ​​​​the thing, but it is all speculation.

Favorable treatment for vaccinees

Let’s let go of Nole’s boots, or at least, let’s grab those of the others, the Tsitsipas or Gilles Simon who dragged their feet before getting vaccinated, not without hurting the Frenchman’s ass, and let’s say things clearly: the best player in the world is not alone in his hesitation. According to the latest official figures, the vaccination rate of players on the circuit is between 65 and 70%, which leaves a third of unvaccinated people on the side of the road. “It’s not enough, laments to 20 minutes Doctor Montalvan, deputy director in charge of medical matters at the FFT. And again, we were at 45% two months ago, so it’s boosting well because Australia is rightly imposing it. »

The WTA – which dreams of raising the rate to 85% of vaccinated people – and the ATP do not impose anything. They recommend, as demonstrated by a letter sent to the players quoted by The Team. “While we respect that each player has an individual choice to make, we also believe that each player has a role to play in helping the wider group achieve a safe level of immunity. The authorities are thus content to follow the rules set by the States but put in place a regime favorable to vaccinated players, who, in addition to greater freedom of movement, are exempted from a certain number of cotton swabs. in the nose and protected from contact status. Vaccinated, Gilles Simon could for example have participated in the US Open despite the positive test of his coach. It should also be noted that the ATP no longer covers the costs of isolation for positive cases or contacts, for unvaccinated players.

Distrust and misunderstanding

If the decision-makers must redouble their ideas to make the status of vaccinated preferable – beyond the fact that it protects against a rather boring virus, which should be enough in itself – it is because it does not flow from source for the suspicious part of the circuit. Montalvan:

The players are very careful with their health as it is their working tool. When they are sick they cannot play or earn money. They are very wary of anything involving injections and anything we don’t know. For them, their health capital is the basis of their work tool. And then they read everything they read, namely that they are young and do not risk much. »

The fear of side effects linked to the vaccine exists, on the other hand, is stronger. And the Jérémy Chardy case, if it remains very marginal, is not to reassure the last refractory. The Frenchman had to end his season due to a reaction to the Pfizer vaccine. “It’s frustrating especially since I don’t have ten years left to play […] Suddenly, now I regret having had the vaccine, but I could not know. »

An unfortunately necessary risk in what Dr. Montalvan describes as a “war” against the virus. “What tennis players do not necessarily understand is that people who did not necessarily want to be vaccinated did so to protect others. But they do it because it is imposed on us and they do not want to transmit the virus. So they end up doing a “citizenship” act that they didn’t necessarily want to do. Gilou’s comments during his quarantine in New York perfectly illustrate the idea. “Basically, I really didn’t want to. I’m not very afraid of the Covid. My basic philosophy is: if you’re afraid, you get vaccinated, otherwise, no. »

The FFT doctor nevertheless understands – “without wishing to excuse them” – that not all tennis players are able to grasp the collective dimension of vaccination:

1) Tennis is an individual and low-contaminating sport.

2) Its actors operate within a structure of which they are the sole basis.

“Somewhere, says Montalvan, there is a form of selfishness, but they have always managed their careers in this way since children. You also need to understand their way of life. »

Understand misunderstanding, and also adapt to it. “People who are antivax, you have to convince them, you try the best you can by listening and talking. But what works is Australia imposing the vaccine. I think that’s how it should be done. History proves it, the flip-flops are multiplying. A reluctant but still mysterious time, Sascha Zverev sees “no problem” in the vaccination obligation advocated by Australians. It remains to be seen whether Novak Djokovic will also end up changing his mind.

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