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‘Novax’ will need special passport to play at the Oz Open

Mark Knight, October 28, 2021 6:00PM Kids News

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Cartoonist Mark Knight says tennis star Novak Djokovic will need a special passport to play in the Australian Open this summer. media_cameraCartoonist Mark Knight says tennis star Novak Djokovic will need a special passport to play in the Australian Open this summer.


Reading level: green

Australia is reopening and with it, hopefully, major events are set to return with crowds.

One of them is the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne and the big talk this week was about vaccine passports for overseas players.

Victorians know that vaccination is the key to our reopening. People cannot enter restaurants, businesses or workplaces without their vaccine certificate. And most of us have accepted that as part of getting life back up and running.

The Victorian Government has also asked this of the big sports stars that are coming to Australia this summer for the tennis and the cricket.

Most Victorians would agree that if they have to get vaccinated and show proof, then so should sports stars who want to come and play in Australia.

But this is where it gets tricky because some tennis players refuse to get vaccinated for Covid-19 or will not disclose* their vaccination status*.

One of those players just happens to be the greatest tennis player going around at the moment, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

2021 Australian Open Men's Trophy Media Opportunity media_cameraWorld No. 1 Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open men’s title earlier this year but he might be stopped from returning to Melbourne in 2022 if he refuses to get the Covid-19 vaccine and confirm is vaccination status. Picture: Getty Images

The Serbian ace has had a chequered history* with Covid. Last year he held a tennis tournament and threw a big launch party during the height of the first wave of Covid in Europe. It turned into a super spreader event with people there catching the virus, Djokovic included. (Maybe his doctor has told him that he doesn’t need the vaccine because having had the virus, he has antibodies* in his system that naturally protect him against getting it again!)

Still, he refuses to declare his vaccination status and that is causing a problem. The Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, says “no jab certificate, no play”.

To make things even more complicated, a leaked* email from a world tennis organisation said players would not have to get vaccinated and could instead quarantine* for two weeks in Australia before the tournament.

The Federal Government then chipped in and said it was happy to allow players to do two weeks’ quarantine and grant them an exemption* from a vaccination passport.

But Dan Andrews hit that idea out of the stadium with an overhead forehand smash!

So I thought of drawing a cartoon on how Novak Djokovic might be allowed to play in the Australian Open.

Australian Open tennis media_cameraMark Knight loves to draw Novak Djokovic because of his intense expression on court, like in this pose when he won the men’s singles at the Australian Open earlier this year. Picture: Michael Klein

He is great to draw. His intensity* of expression on the tennis court is fun to caricature*. His eyes are almost eagle-like; they would have to be to spot a tennis ball at 120km/h!

I am also fascinated with the vaccine certificates we all carry on our phones. They are almost like a status symbol, the bold, patriotic green and gold colouring with the big tick next to your name.

I thought I would try to create a new one for Novak, a certificate that allowed him to participate without vaccination.

I would have to draw the certificate as it appears on our phones so it looked official, but change a few things to give it new meaning.

So in the cartoon Djokovic is on centre court in Melbourne, holding up his phone to show his certificate of approval to play without vaccination.

It looks like the real one but on closer inspection it is issued by the World Tennis body (not the Australian Government), it is valid for the Australian Open and I have changed his name from Novak to “Novax” Djokovic.

Novax, I mean Novak, stares at the reader with those piercing eagle eyes. How could we say no?


  • disclose: make known, reveal
  • status: current situation or position
  • chequered history: a past that has good and bad times
  • antibodies: proteins produced by the body’s immune system when it detects harmful substances
  • leaked: when private or secret information is made known publically
  • quarantine: a period of isolation
  • exemption: permission not to follow a certain rule or law
  • intensity: being intense which means having or showing a high level of something, such as strength, concentration or determination
  • caricature: draw a person in a way that exaggerates their characteristics


Covid vaccine race is finally on

The moment Djokovic stared into the void


  1. What world ranking does Novak Djokovic have?
  2. Where did Novak Djokovic catch Covid-19?
  3. What does Mark Knight say Victorian Premier Dan Andrews did to the Federal Government’s suggestion unvaccinated players could quarantine for two weeks?
  4. Why does Mark Knight like to draw Novak Djokovic?
  5. What name does Mark Knight give Novak in his cartoon?


1. What Happens Next?
Imagine this cartoon is part of a story that is made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell a complete story, and Mark’s cartoon is the start of the story.

Think about what the story could be and draw the next two cartoons that tell the story.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Being able to draw is only one of the skills needed to be a great cartoonist. Write a list of all of the other skills that you think cartoonists like Mark need to do their job.

Next to each skill, write a sentence that explains why that skill is important or helps them to do a great job.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Media Arts, Visual Communication Design

Describe It
Look at the cartoon and make a list of five nouns that you see. Then describe those five nouns with five adjectives. Add a preposition to those five nouns and adjectives.

Now choose your favourite bundle and put all the words together to make one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in sport