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Listen: The Asia Pacific Report – Anti Djokovic Sentiment Running High in Australia

Jan 13, 2022

Umm Muhammed Umar

Radio Islam spoke to foreign policy analyst Sanusha Naidu on the Asia Report regarding tennis star Novak Djokovic and the Australian elections. The Djokovic saga could have an important impact for the federal elections later this year. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces the dilemma of whether he should he revoke Djokovic’s exemption to travel to the country to play in the Australian Open. Djokovic has been exempted from being vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, having allegedly had a covid 19 infection in mid-December. Naidu says that Australia’s COVID-19 regulations cannot simply be violated simply to reach a goal. However, she says on the other hand, is the question of international image and branding – the Australian Open is a major international sporting event. And would that imply that Australia was soft on broader issues. To add fuel to the fire, Australians have become rather anti Djokovic, with him being an ‘anti vaxxer’ and refusing to disclose his status. Naidu reiterated that the whole Djokovic saga was now becoming politicized – Morrisons opponents were moving their attention away from border control issues and focusing on the Djokovic saga to be used in elections.

Public sentiment has swayed even further against Djokovic following revelations that the day after he tested positive, he attended an event where they were children present, without masking. He had also incorrectly filled out forms not indicating that he had travelled ahead of coming to Australia. However, if Djokovic was deported, he would be unable to participate for the next three years, and that could have consequences for the Australian Open. Naidu said that the challenge for the PM was that if he expelled Djokovic, in order to appease the public, it would be globally viewed as the Australians not having handled the situation very well, particularly the granting of the exemption visa, as well as allowing him to come to the country in the first place.

The Australian Government has been very strict on COVID mentioned regulations, travel bans, and so forth. The local domestic population has not been allowed to travel because of the strict COVID restrictions. Naidu said, “if you look at some of the Twitter feeds that are coming out of Australia, people are saying, well, we couldn’t actually go and travel to visit sick family members, to go to funerals. Especially those overseas Australians that were out of the country couldn’t come back home……what makes Djokovic special?”

Separately, a case of mad cow disease in Canada has caused a spark in Asia, in particular, China, South Korea and Philippines. Those countries have instituted import bans on Canadian beef. Naidu said, “These three markets are the biggest three emerging markets for Connect for Canada, outside of Japan and the US and the Canadians are feeling the pinch, because now it’s hurting the industry.” Further, in Thailand is the price of chicken is skyrocketing, as the demand for chicken is increasing because at the same time, there’s a sharp shortage of pork.

Lastly in the last two years, Covid has affected the insurance industry (amongst others). The industry was dealing with reinsurance, insurance payouts, etc. linked to Covid. Naidu said, “But we’ve also not been following the impact of natural disaster on the insurance industry and not the implications for paying out.” She added, “for example, in 2021, I think the total value of destruction as a result of disaster was over $200 billion, mainly within the US. But Asia, having some, say, maybe $50 billion in which the insurance industry has not paid out because there’s mainly a lack of insurance, about $9 billion dollars is only covered by the insurance industry.” Climate change is changing the dynamic of the industry. In Asia, where you have the biggest disruptors in terms of natural disaster, such as flooding, and earthquakes, some of the countries are not taking the insurance further. It’s unknown whether the insurance industry even has the capacity to absorb anything in terms of natural disaster. Naidu said that even in South Africa, insurance should be paying attention to natural disasters.

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