The Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison - or ‘the fella Down Under’ as Joe Biden calls him - as thrown himself very firmly into the centre of a great sporting squabble.
By the time you read this, Morrison may have suffered an embarrassing defeat, or emerged as the champion of the common man.
Let’s set the scene. Novak Djokovic, one of the world’s finest tennis players, had travelled to Australia to defend the ‘Australian Open’ tennis title which he has won countless times.
Were he to be successful again, he would have recorded more Major wins than his rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
While Djokovic has made some remarks about the policy of vaccination against Covid, and refused to reveal whether or not he himself has been vaccinated, the State of Victoria, within whose bounds the competition will be held, have granted him a medical exemption.
Morrison, as Prime Minister of the Federal Government feels that the strict rules about vaccination for visitors to Australia are being bent in favour of a leading sportsman, and wishes to take a stand.
‘No one is above the law’, he contends, famous sportsman or not.
There are different motives at play in this matter. Morrison may be motivated by the fact that an election is pending, and he wishes to be seen to be the strong leader the country needs. Television moguls and tournament organisers may bemoan the ‘devaluing of their product’ should Djokovic be deported. Besides, I may not be entirely impartial myself, since Djokovic has sometimes been suspected of feigning injury to distract an opponent.
Others may feel that it would be unfair to deprive Djokovic of the opportunity to prove he is the world’s most successful tennis player. But then would we be happy if rules were bent to allow Serena Williams to equal Margaret Court’s record of Major wins in women’s tennis, or to allow Rory McIlroy to win the Masters and so join an elite group of those who have won all of golf’s four Majors?
Morrison sees this matter as a health, and not a sporting issue. It is an issue with which we in the United Kingdom can identify. One of the complaints against Boris Johnson’s government, with the stories of Christmas wine and cheese parties, is the feeling that there is one rule for those in government, and another rule for the rest of us.
I’m with Scott Morrison because the Bible tells me that all should be treated equally, since all are made in God’s image. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then tidily arranged for Bathsheba’s husband to be killed in battle, the Hebrew prophet confronted and condemned him. Not even kings were immune from rebuke and punishment. A New York court might soon rule that the same applies to princes.
James, the brother of Jesus, was probably referring to something he had witnessed in early Christian gatherings, and how a rich person was treated noticeably differently from someone less well off.
Read his rebuke in the New Testament and note the simple command, ‘My brothers...Don’t show favouritism’ (James 2;1).
After all, God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10;34).
Good for you, Scott!