Surfing legend Kelly Slater has been fiercely criticised over an Instagram exchange with an Australian iron-man Matt Poole, in which he pushed coronavirus misinformation.
Slater said in August that he was not comfortable being vaccinated against Covid-19, but insisted he was not against vaccinations.
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However he has once again attempted to cast doubt over the effectiveness of vaccines, replying to a comment on Poole's Instagram page in which the Australian champion was promoting the effectiveness of vaccines.
Poole likened those deliberately opting not to get vaccinated to swimmers choosing to venture into a rip, despite knowing the dangers and the high likelihood they would need to be rescued.
Tagging fellow Australian iron man great Trevor Hendy, Poole took aim at sections of the sporting community that were sceptical of vaccines.
“The next time I head down to surfers I’m going to jump in the rip because ‘freedom of choice’,” Poole wrote.
“Trev you understand that - you just said you can’t dictate to me what is or isn’t potentially dangerous. It’s no issue for me, but as soon as I start telling others there is no danger in the rip, they’ll jump in too, and tell their mates and before you know it, there is a 100 of us in there. But Trev - that’s our choice.
“Now some of the 100 get in trouble, and lifesavers come to save them… putting those lifesavers in danger as well.
“Now 50 are drowning and the lifesavers are overrun, and can’t save them all or themselves…. But that was our choice.
“It’s not freedom of choice if it impacts others — it’s about helping others.”
That Kelly Slater Instagram vaccine rabbit hole… wowsers! 😳 #Covid19
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) October 22, 2021
In response, Slater made the slightly ridiculous claim that he knew 'more about being healthy than 99% of doctors', and argued Poole's analogy 'makes no sense'.
Slater said that if he made a hypothetical choice to engage in the kind of conduct Poole described, then he alone would bear the consequences for it.
“If something happens to me it’s on me, not someone else. Your argument is a false equivalence. Apples and oranges," Slater said.
"If 99.7% of all people would be fine with no lifeguard while in that rip and they’re given all the possibilities, most could swim the most dangerous part of that beach without risking drowning."
Kelly Slater slammed for sharing anti-vax views on Instagram
While Slater's comments attracted some support from the likes of Australian actor Ingo Rademacher and the aforementioned Iron Man competitor Hendy, others were less than impressed.
Rademacher suggested doctors in Australia had been 'bought and paid for' - despite countries around the entire world conducting vaccination schemes.
Australian Iron Man star Jett Kenny was particularly displeased with Slater bringing his considerable online audience to the Instagram discussion, suggesting it might be more productive if the surfing legend spent his time on more worthwhile causes, rather than being argumentative on social media.
“I hope you’re this invested in our sport and the topics around it when we are competing and when the professional series is on," Kenny wrote.
"Would be amazing to have your support and exposure.
“Unless you’re just here for your personal beliefs and the argumentative/debate side of vaccinations and knowing more about being healthy than 99% of doctors?
"Regardless, I’d love to know how you’ve ended up on a nippers Instagram post debating vaccinations and choices.”
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