Novak Djokovic has sought to clarify comments he made earlier this year about his distrust of vaccinations amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Djokovic, who is the No1-ranked men’s player in the world, drew criticism in April for saying he is “opposed to vaccinations”, before the Serb courted more controversy when his exhibition tour of Croatia and Serbia resulted in several players – himself included – testing positive for Covid-19 due to a lack of social-distancing measures.
Speaking to The New York Times this week about his previous comments on vaccinations, Djokovic said: “I see that the international media has taken that out of context a little bit, saying that I am completely against vaccines of any kind.
“My issue here with vaccines is if someone is forcing me to put something in my body. That I don’t want. For me that’s unacceptable.
“I am not against vaccination of any kind, because who am I to speak about vaccines when there are people that have been in the field of medicine and saving lives around the world?
“I’m sure that there are vaccines that have little side effects that have helped people and helped stop the spread of some infections around the world.”
The 33-year-old also addressed his ill-fated Adria Tour, saying: “We tried to do something with the right intentions. Yes, there were some steps that could have been done differently, of course, but am I going to be then forever blamed for doing a mistake?
“I mean, okay, if this is the way, fine, I’ll accept it, because that’s the only thing I can do. Whether it’s fair or not, you tell me, but I know that the intentions were right and correct, and if I had the chance to do the Adria Tour again, I would do it again.
“I don’t think I’ve done anything bad to be honest. I do feel sorry for people that were infected. Do I feel guilty for anybody that was infected from that point onward in Serbia, Croatia and the region? Of course not.
“It’s like a witch hunt, to be honest. How can you blame one individual for everything?”
Djokovic returns to action this week at the Cincinnati Masters – which is actually taking place in New York due to the pandemic, at the same site as the US Open.
“It is strange, because these two guys are the legends of our sport and with or without crowds, they are going to be missed a lot,” Djokovic said.
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