(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

The truth of Australian politics universally acknowledged throughout this pandemic is that whenever you’re not sure what to do, find an outsider to blame, whether they be Chinese lab workers, asylum seekers, expat Australians -- and now, foreign tennis players.

Looking for an anti-vax villain to reposition himself in the COVID centre after a too-early stumble into “self-responsibility”, Scott Morrison leapt at world men’s tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic, swiftly measuring him up for the role of part-villain, part-scapegoat -- someone powerful who could pay the price for all the weddings, funerals and family celebrations that two years of hard borders denied us.

And, on cue, Australia’s media fell into line, echoing the Morrisonian “rules are rules” mantra, long after the government gave up its hunt for insufficiently crossed “t”s, moving its caricature of the arrogant foreign rule-breaker into a moustache-twirling pantomime villain from the vaccine wars.