In an interview with the BBC, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic said he would rather miss out on future tennis trophies than be forced to get a Covid vaccine.
Djokovic said he does not want to be associated with the anti-vax movement, but that he supports an individual’s right to choose.
He added that he would agree not to compete at Wimbledon and the French Open if vaccination was a condition. “That is the price that I’m willing to pay,” he said in the interview to the BBC.
Djokovic said he hoped vaccination requirements in certain tournaments would change, adding that he was hoping that he “can play for many more years.” But he also confirmed he was willing to forgo the chance to become statistically the greatest male tennis player of all time because he felt so strongly about the issue.
“I was never against vaccination,” he told the BBC, confirming that he’d received vaccines as a child, “but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.” He said he was “keeping [his] mind open” about the possibility of being vaccinated in the future, “because we are all trying to collectively find 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,” he said. “Millions of people have and are still struggling with Covid around the world. So I take this very seriously, I really don’t like someone thinking I’ve misused something or in my own favour, in order to, you know, get a positive PCR test and eventually go to Australia.”
He also denied knowing of any attempt to tamper with PCR tests before going to Australia.
“So actually, what people probably don’t know is that I was not deported from Australia on the basis that I was not vaccinated, or I broke any rules or that I made an error in my visa declaration. All of that was actually approved and validated by the Federal Court of Australia and the Minister for Immigration,” he said.
“The reason why I was deported from Australia was because the Minister for Immigration used his discretion to cancel my visa based on his perception that I might create some anti-vax sentiment in the country or in the city, which I completely disagree with,” Djokovic said.
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