Novak Djokovic has stated that he is willing to skip the French Open and Wimbledon if coronavirus vaccination is required for him to compete. In an interview with the BBC, the world number one in men’s tennis and a 20-time Grand Slam winner confirmed that he is still unvaccinated against COVID-19. After a 10-day legal battle, he was deported from Australia in January due to his vaccination status, and he lost his bid to stay in the country to defend his Australian Open title. He also missed out on the opportunity to break Rafael Nadal’s record of winning the most Grand Slams.
In the new interview, the tennis star claims that he is not anti-vaccination, a claim that appears to contradict previous statements.
“I was never against vaccination. I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and hopefully seeing an end to this virus, and vaccination is probably the biggest effort,” Djokovic told the BBC.
“I fully respect that. Based on all the information that I got, I decided not to take the vaccine as of today.”
The 34-year-old Serb stated that he was willing the price of missing the next two majors, where I am also the defending champion, and other tournaments. Djokovic has six Wimbledon titles and has won the French Open twice. “I understand the consequences of my decision,” he said. “I understand that not being vaccinated today, you know, I am unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the moment.”
Djokovic, on the other hand, has distanced himself from anti-vaccination activists. During the Australian saga, some people hailed him as a hero. “I have never said that I am part of that movement,” Djokovic said, although he also said that “everyone has the right to choose, to act, or say whatever they feel is appropriate for them.”
In the months leading up to Roland Garros, vaccination rules in France may change, allowing Djokovic to compete in the French Open. Unvaccinated players are currently at risk of missing the tournament. The French government, which has begun to ease some health and travel restrictions, has stated that if the pandemic recedes, they may consider lifting the vaccine requirement by the end of March or the beginning of April.