London: If forced to choose, Novak Djokovic said he would skip the French Open and Wimbledon. He asserted that he would forego the chance to overtake Rafael Nadal’s record haul of 21 Grand Slams titles, rather than get vaccinated against Covid-19. The World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was deported last month from Australia in a drama about his vaccination status.
Djokovic told the BBC Tuesday that he is still not vaccinated. He is prepared to sacrifice titles to stay that way. If need be, not defending his titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and missing other tournaments is ‘the price that I am willing to pay’, said the 34-year-old Serb.
Djokovic said he is not opposed to vaccinations. He sought to distance himself from anti-vaccination campaigners. “I have never said that I am part of that movement,” Djokovic stated.
But he said ‘everyone has the right to choose, to act, or say whatever they feel is appropriate for them’. He said he believes in ‘the freedom to choose what you put into your body. And, for me, that is essential’.
“I am trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can,” he said. Based on all the information that I got, I decided not to take the vaccine, as of today. I understand the consequences of my decision. I understand that not being vaccinated, you know, I am unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the moment,” Djokovic added.
Djokovic was asked if he would be prepared to miss the French Open in May. “That is the price that I am willing to pay,” he asserted. Also asked if would be ready to skip Wimbledon, he added: “Yes, because the principles of decision-making on my body are more important than any title or anything else.”
Djokovic has won the French Open twice, including in 2021, and has six Wimbledon titles, including the last three.
Nadal won this year’s Australian Open, giving him one more major title than Djokovic and Roger Federer.
Djokovic went back over the deportation drama in detail and made clear his displeasure at how it turned out.
“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,” Djokovic informed.
“The reason why I was deported from Australia was because the minister for immigration used his discretional right 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,” he added.