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Novak Djokovic insists he’s prepared to miss French Open and Wimbledon over vaccine stance

The Serbian missed the Australian Open last month after being deported following a row over his Covid vaccination status

Jack Rathborn
Assistant Sports Editor
Tuesday 15 February 2022 18:05 GMT
Djokovic says he's prepared to miss French Open and Wimbledon over vaccine stance

Novak Djokovic insists he’s prepared to miss the French Open and Wimbledon over his vaccine stance.

The Serbian was deported from Australia last month when the government cancelled his visa following a row over his vaccine status.

While Djokovic’s stance arguably cost him a grand slam as rival Rafael Nadal claimed glory in Melbourne to move ahead of him and Roger Federer in the race to secure the most men’s singles titles in tennis history.

Djokovic, 34, maintains he could change his mind over receiving the vaccine in the future, but added he is not part of the anti-vax movement and that he supported every individual’s right to choose.

“Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic told the BBC. “I understand the consequences of my decision.

“I understand that not being vaccinated today, you know, I am unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the moment.

“I was never against vaccination, but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”

With Nadal, 35, now on 21 grand slams, Djokovic risks falling behind the Spaniard. But Djokovic explained that his willingness to impact his tennis legacy was “because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”

Djokovic was detained upon arrival in Melbourne in early January before engaging in a legal battle, which eventually result in his deportation on the eve of the Australian Open.

Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, opted to exercise his ministerial discretion and cancel the world No 1’s visa.

The conclusion from the Australian government’s perspective was that Djokovic “may foster anti-vaccination” sentiment and cause “civil unrest”. This was held up in the full federal court following a desperate last-ditch appeal by the Serbian.

Djokovic then accepted his fate and withdrew from the Australian Open while saying he was “extremely disappointed” with the ruling.

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