Tennis star Novak Djokovic has revealed that he will refuse to play at future Grand Slams if it means he has to take a Covid jab.
In his first interview since the ridiculous fiasco surrounding his deportation from Australia last month, Djokovic said that he was not an anti-vaxxer but he supported an individual’s right to choose. He also confirmed he was willing to forego the chance to become statistically the greatest male tennis player of all time because he felt so strongly.
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He added that hw would sacrifice his place in French Open twice and Wimbledon if a vaccination was required to compete, saying: ‘That is the price I am willing to pay.’
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He did say that he hoped vaccination requirements in certain tournaments would change, adding that he was hoping that he could “play for many more years”.
The Mail Online reports: Djokovic became the world’s most prominent vaccine sceptic in January when Australia kicked him out of the country and refused to let him compete in the tournament in a U-turn, after he was initially let into the country with a medical exemption from having to provide proof of vaccination.
Now, he faces a similar situation in France ahead of the French Open in May, with the country’s health minister last month saying athletes must be vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid in order to participate in competitions.
Christophe Castaner, head of French president Emmanuel Macron’s LREM ruling party group, said the prospect of an unvaccinated Djokovic defending his title was ‘out of the question’.
Wimbledon has also provided no guarantee that Djokovic will be able to play at this summer’s Grand Slam in South West London, despite there being no UK government rules on athletes requiring vaccines.
Djokovic’s rival Rafael Nadal went on to win the tournament Down Under, taking his Grand Slam tally to 21, one more than the Serbian’s haul of 20. Earlier this month, it was reported that the 34-year-old was considering taking the jab to eclipse the Spaniard’s total.
Now, Djokovic has broken his silence on the visa saga in an interview with Amol Rajan, saying he would choose not play at future tournaments — foregoing his chance to be considered, statistically, tennis’ greatest male player — if he has to take the vaccine to compete.
Former tennis player Tim Henman said while Djokovic’s decision to potentially take himself out the game is ‘probably not what I wanted to hear’, he praised the Serb’s ‘courage, conviction and belief that this is what is best for him’.
Djokovic told the BBC: ‘Because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else.
‘I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.’
Speaking from his tennis base in Belgrade, Djokovic confirmed that he has not been vaccinated against Covid.
Asked what he would say to anti-vaxers who claim him as their own, he said: ‘I say everyone has the right to choose or act however they feel is appropriate for them.
‘I have never said that I am part of that movement.
‘No one in the whole process during the saga has asked me on my stance or my opinion on vaccination — no one.’
The 34-year-old insisted that he is ‘keeping [his] mind open’ to the possibility of being vaccinated in the future ‘because we are all trying to find collectively, a best possible solution to end Covid’.
‘I was never against vaccination.
‘I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus.
‘For me, as an elite professional athlete I have always carefully reviewed and assessed everything that comes in, from the supplements, the food, the water that I drink or sports drinks, anything really that comes into my body as a fuel.
‘Based on all the information that I got, I decided not to take the vaccine.’
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