Only three countries in the history of the Summer Olympic Games have the pride of having more than one host city for the highest universal sports competition. One is the United States, the great power of all time, and the other two are Germany – another nation with a strong imprint on sports – and Australia. The Australian case is striking. From the first edition of the Games in 1896 until it received them in Melbourne in 1956, it garnered 19 gold medals, just 11 percent of its total. The other 145 he has won in the last 66 years and 80 of them in the last 22, since Sydney 2000.
The numbers clearly mark the development of an extraordinary policy with which Australians became great protagonists in sports as different as swimming, athletics, cycling, yachting and rowing. Not to mention what happens to them with tennis: although this is a sport with little Olympic tradition, australian players shone in the Davis and Billie Jean King Cups and in the Grand Slams, with numbers 1 included.
All that remarkable brand that, it is insisted, exceeds tennis, could be seriously damaged by the scandal – and the trade – that surrounds Novak Djokovic and his participation in the first Grand Slam of the season. The American Tennys Sandgren, giving voice to what many of his colleagues think in a low voice, shot: “Australia does not deserve to organize a Grand Slam”. But is it so?
It is true that the situation surpassed the tournament organization and the country’s own authorities. The weight of the name of the best tennis player in the world and one of the most recognized athletes on the planet, had a huge influence and, even once the draw was made, nobody wanted to decide. It is already known what Djokovic means for the great sponsors of tennis beyond his status as an avowed anti-vaccine …
Either way, whether or not he plays the tournament, Australia’s credibility will have been damaged. Or, at least, that of its officials. More than 80 percent of the country’s inhabitants disagree with the Serb even staying on their territory. None of them overlooks that at the peak of their quarantine those abroad could not return until the government allowed them. Let him say it but Ashleigh Barty, the best tennis player in the world. In 2021 he was away from his home from March to October and when he returned he had to do, like any compatriot, a strict quarantine in a hotel until he was reunited with his family in Ipswich, in the state of Queensland.
Djokovic’s name will be damaged after everything that happened in recent times. But the Australian one too. Although it is a mirror in which you have to look at yourself.