Professional tennis superstar Novak Djokovic said Tuesday that he would skip other major tournaments this year, such as the French Open and Wimbledon, if his only option to play is to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Djokovic, who is the No. 1 rated player in the world, is in a running battle for the most Grand Slam singles championships with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The trio have dominated the sport like no others during their run. Djokovic and Federer each have 20 titles, while Nadal has 21. Nadal took the lead after winning the Australian Open last month. His chances of victory greatly improved after Australia booted Djokovic from the country.
According to the BBC, in an interview with Djokovic published Tuesday, the Australian government deported him for fear that allowing him to stay and play might create some anti-vax sentiment.”
Djokovic told the BBC that he will remain among the unvaxxed, even if it means he will miss more events and risk falling further behind the other stars.
He also maintained that he is not an anti-vaxxer. He simply believes in retaining bodily control.
“I was never against vaccination,” the Serbian told the BBC. In fact, he was vaccinated as a child. “But I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”
“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 added.
Djokovic not only maintained that it is his right to determine what substances go into his own body, he offered a response similar to that of Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
Being young and a premier athlete puts him at a lower risk. Moreover, he’s had COVID – twice, the BBC reported.
Djokovic added that he has “always been a great student of wellness, wellbeing, health, nutrition.” And he is keeping an open mind about a future vaccine “because we are all trying to find collectively, a best possible solution to end Covid.”
But if playing hinges on the choice to vax or not vax, Djokovic said he’s going with the latter. “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,” Djokovic explained.