We owe Stefanos Tsitsipas a great thank you. Not only for the excitement that he provides on the tennis court but also because his recent statements on his reservations about the Covid-19 vaccination reminded us that society is in a war in which many people are dying almost unnoticed.
The lines between opposing sides are blurred: It is not only people on the fringes of society, at the political extremes, adherents of old superstitions, who refuse to be vaccinated; the easy distinctions between progressive-reactionary, cosmopolitan-ethnocentric individuals etc no longer apply. These days, everyone can believe whatever reflects their character, ignoring science and reality. The views of an international star can be similar to those of a monk or someone addicted to disinformation.
The great number of vaccine “deniers” from many sectors of society demands a variety of specific responses. The annoyance and ridicule expressed by their critics may be justified but it does not help fortify society. We need to see where most “deniers” agree and where they differ.
In Greece, about 11 percent of respondents in a DiaNEOsis survey in May said they “would not” or “might not” get the vaccination. In “rational” Germany, almost double that figure (19.6 percent) said that they would not get the vaccination, according to a report from February. Of them, 66 percent expressed fear of long-term damage, while 57 percent were concerned by the fast approval process. Almost all the anti-vaccine group (89.2 percent) felt that they have no influence over politics. We can assume similar figures in other countries, too.
Tsitsipas is not on any fringe. He knows that his every word carries great weight. However, in the tournament bubble in which he lives, with the omnipotence of a successful young man, he is isolated from society and its concerns.
That is why his inexplicable declaration is valuable. It shows that the famous and unknown, the young and old, rich and poor who fear the vaccination more than they do Covid-19 have one thing in common: They are unable to imagine that the virus concerns them, they cannot believe that only their side is dying. They need to see the cost of each loss on the families of the dead. They need to stand above an open grave to see how meaningless, how deceptive their fear of the vaccine is.