Novak Djokovic: I’m not anti-vaccine, but I’ll surrender trophies if I’m forced to get vaccinated

Novak Djokovic: I'm not anti-vaccine, but I'll surrender trophies if I'm forced to get vaccinated
Novak Djokovic holding a trophy after a win/courtesy of Facebook

Novak Djokovic has stated that he would rather lose future tennis titles than being forced to take the Covid vaccine.


He told the BBC that he should not be associated with the anti-vax movement, but that he supported people’s right to choose.


Novak Djokovic was asked if he would forego competing in tournaments like Wimbledon and the French Open because of his stance on the vaccine.


He said, “Yes, that is the price I am willing to pay.”


Last month, the 20-time Grand Slam winner was deported from Australia after his visa was revoked due to a dispute over his vaccine status.


Because he had recently recovered from Covid-19, Djokovic, the world’s number one men’s tennis player, said he had obtained a medical exemption to enter the country to compete in the Australian Open.


However, the 34-year-visa old’s was personally revoked by the country’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, on the grounds that his presence could incite “civil unrest” and encourage anti-vaccine sentiment.


“I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body,” he told the BBC, confirming that he had vaccines as a child.


Novak Djokovic addressed speculation about the timing of his positive Covid case in December and discussed his own attitude toward the vaccine in a wide-ranging interview, his first since he was detained in Melbourne in January.


Novak Djokovic expressed his hope that vaccination requirements in certain tournaments would be relaxed, and that he would be able to “play for many more years.”


He did, however, confirm that he was willing to forego the chance to become the greatest male tennis player of all time due to his strong feelings. Rafael Nadal, Djokovic’s main rival, has won 21 Grand Slam titles, the most of any competitor.


When asked why, he said: “Because the principles of decision-making on my body take precedence over any title or other consideration. I’m attempting to be as in tune with my body as possible.”


Djokovic said he’d “always been a great student of wellness, wellbeing, health, and nutrition,” and that his decision was influenced in part by the positive impact that factors like changing his diet and sleeping patterns had on his athletic abilities.


He stated that he was “keeping [his] mind open” to the possibility of being vaccinated in the future, “because we are all trying to find a best possible solution to end Covid collectively.”


“I’ve never been anti-vaccination. I understand that everyone is working hard around the world to combat this virus and bring it to a close as soon as possible.”


Djokovic is a remarkable person by any standard. He is fluent in six languages, arguably the greatest player ever to pick up a racket, and – most importantly – a deeply committed libertarian who believes strongly in individual autonomy. He was raised in the former Yugoslavia during two wars, by parents who sold the family gold and negotiated with loan sharks to fund his ambitions.


He has clearly considered the conflict between individual autonomy and the common good, and he believes that, as an elite athlete, his body is his business in both senses. He claims to be open-minded, but he will not receive the jab as things stand.



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