Tennis world number 1 Novak Djokovic says he is opposed to vaccination and “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel” in order to resume his career after the coronavirus pandemic.
Djokovic, 32, was speaking in a Facebook live chat on Sunday, and suggested he may to choose to retire from the sport rather than submit to the pressure to receive a vaccination.
“Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” said Djokovic, a three time US Open champion.
“But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision. I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know.
“Hypothetically, if the season was to resume in July, August or September, though unlikely, I understand that a vaccine will become a requirement straight after we are out of strict quarantine and there is no vaccine yet.”
Arguably the greatest athlete in world tennis, renowned for his stamina and strength, Djokovic became world number 1 in 2011 and has stayed there ever since, apart from a spell in the second half of last year when Roger Federer relegated him to No 2.
Djokovic remains on course to become the most successful male tennis player in history. With 17 Grand Slam titles under his belt, the Serbian is only three titles away from the longstanding record held by Australian Rod Laver.
The decision to stand down from the game at this point in his career, with historic milestones looming, would reverberate around the world.
Last month, former women’s world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo tweeted that “no vaccine = no tennis.” Neither the ATP nor WTA tours have said that a vaccination will be necessary for players to resume playing on the tour, while scientists state a Covid-19 vaccine may be 12 months or more away.
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