Unvaccinated Djokovic could skip French Open, Wimbledon if asked to take jab
Novak Djokovic said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday that he is prepared to skip the French Open and Wimbledon if vaccination against the coronavirus is required for him to play.
Speaking to the BBC, the 20-time Grand Slam champion said he is not vaccinated and added that missing the next two majors and other tournaments is “the price that I am willing to pay.”
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“I understand the consequences of my decision,” Djokovic said. “I understand that not being vaccinated today, you know, I am unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the moment.”
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Djokovic said he was not against vaccination but would skip Grand Slam tournaments if he was forced to take the jab against COVID-19.
Djokovic was deported from Australia after an 11-day rollercoaster experience involving two visa cancellations, two court challenges and five nights in two stints at an immigration detention hotel where asylum seekers are held.
“Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay,” the 34-year-old Serbian told the BBC, adding that he was aware that he would not be able to travel to most tournaments in the world currently because of his unvaccinated status.
The 20-times major champion is set to return to competitive action at an ATP tournament in Dubai next week for the first time since he was deported ahead of the Australian Open, the year’s first tennis Grand Slam.
Another win at Melbourne Park, where Djokovic has won nine titles, could have taken him to a men’s record 21 major titles, but instead it was his long-time rival Rafa Nadal who nudged ahead by lifting the trophy last month.
Djokovic said he was ready to sacrifice his shot at the milestone over the “freedom of choice” but he was keeping an open mind about taking the jab in the future.
“I was never against vaccination,” he said, adding that he took vaccines 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.”
Read more: Djokovic had COVID-19 a month ago, had clearance to enter Australia: Court filing