‘It’s too late now’: Novak Djokovic condemned for ‘creating misconception’ around coronavirus vaccination

Current world No 1 tennis player revealed he was against vaccinations and would have to think carefully about taking one if it was required to return to the sport once the coronavirus pandemic has eased

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Wednesday 22 April 2020 11:52 BST
Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

Novak Djokovic has been accused of “creating misconceptions” surrounding a coronavirus vaccination by one of Serbia’s leading epidemiologists.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion expressed his reservations against taking a vaccination in the future in order to return to competitive tennis, having given his views on what may be required to start travelling the world again on the ATP circuit.

With global travel a large part of the tennis calendar, the future looks uncertain for the sport until the coronavirus pandemic reduces significantly, with the US Open and rearranged French Open due to take place from September.

But Djokovic has hinted at delaying his return if it means having to have a vaccination due to his preference in having natural treatments, with his comments sparking widespread criticism this week.

That has included Serbian government epidemiologist Predrag Kon, who has condemned Djokovic’s comments because of the danger posed to a population that is not immunised against Covid-19. More than 170,000 people have died as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with confirmed cases now exceeding 2.5m around the world.

“As one of Djokovic’s most loyal supporters, I wish I had had the opportunity to explain the importance and immense contribution of immunisations to the health of the population,” Kon said on his Facebook page. “It’s too late now, he’s created misconceptions.”

Kon is currently advising the Serbian government on how to handle the coronavirus crisis from a health perspective, where there have been 130 recorded deaths and 6,890 confirmed cases, according to the United Nations.

Djokovic said that although he is not completely against a vaccination, he is against the idea of having one if he has the choice.

“Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” Djokovic said on a Facebook live chat with other leading Serbian athletes.

“But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision.

“I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know.

“Hypothetically, if the season was to resume in July, August or September, though unlikely, I understand that a vaccine will become a requirement straight after we are out of strict quarantine and there is no vaccine yet.”

The comments from the world No 1 was not the only controversy surrounding the Djokovic family this week after wife Jelena saw a ‘false information’ tag being placed on a video she shared on Instagram.

The 33-year-old posted a 10-minute video of American physician Dr Thomas Cowan discussing the conspiracy theory that 5G technology was to blame for the coronavirus outbreak – a theory that has no evidence to support it whatsoever.

Independent fact checkers employed by Instagram ruled the video unreliable, and she moved to clarify her position on the theory a few days after posting it.

“I shared the video a few days ago for one reason only – it mentions the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, which is relevant to my area of ​​interest and business, and hence my interest in this video was larger than the sea of ​​other content I get.

“Specifically, Steiner schools and kindergartens are located in 76 countries (Waldorf schools) and for some time I have been meeting with their work and studying the curriculum. Steiner’s philosophy and work on biodynamic agriculture have encouraged me to learn more, which I have devoted myself to in recent months.

“So, it makes sense to me, I’m not claiming to be true or not, but I’m certainly interested in learning and getting informed about it.”

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