Comment on the Djokovic case: Not everyone is equal in an emergency

DThe pandemic is revealing what otherwise remains hidden. For better or for worse. The corona virus is a leveler – because it knows no borders, neither national nor human. But it also creates and deepens inequality: between rich and poor, old and young, amateur and professional. The pandemic poses great challenges for free societies in particular, because they (have to) take tough measures to avert danger, which cause emotions to boil over and threaten institutions that in turn live primarily from acceptance.

It is a tightrope walk between the self-evident principle of “as much freedom as possible” and the state’s rightly demanded duty to protect its citizens. And of course all of this should be fair.

The dispute over the entry of the tennis world number one to the Grand Slam tournament in Australia illustrates the heated situation. The prime minister defended his government’s decision to expel the sports star from the country despite a judicial decision to the contrary. He referred to Australians, the people who have made many sacrifices during the pandemic and rightly expect the outcome of those hardships to be protected.

The pressure on the government, which stands for rigid anti-corona measures, is obviously very high. No one should appear to be more equal than the others – even if they may represent a permissible exception to the rule.

Whatever the outcome of the case, it is reminiscent of inequality, which must be justified in particular in times of need: when millionaires are allowed to play, but children are not; when sport is allowed to do more than theatre, when a distinction is made between supposed high culture and other pleasures. Rules apply, as do established exceptions. No one, including any group or institution, should be made the scapegoat of an emergency that everyone must face together.

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