Rafael Nadal admits he feels sorry for Novak Djokovic after the world number one was denied entry into Australia but also says his rival knew the consequences of arriving for the Australian Open without being vaccinated.
The 34-year-old was detained by officials at the border on Thursday amid a storm of protest about the decision to grant him a medical exemption from vaccination requirements to play in the tournament.
Djokovic, who has won nine Australian Open titles including the last three, is holed up in a quarantine hotel in Melbourne as his lawyers seek an urgent injunction against deportation.
Nadal tested positive for Covid last month, despite being vaccinated, and says his rival knew his own decision would have consequences.
“I went through the Covid, I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here. That’s the only clear thing,” Nadal said after winning his first singles match on the ATP Tour since August.
“The only for me clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion have been suffering enough to not follow the rules.
“He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences,” he added of Djokovic.
“Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.
“The only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine says, and if those people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine.”
Djokovic, who has publicly criticised mandatory vaccines, has refused to disclose his inoculation status and said he has been granted a medical exemption to compete in Australia.
Nadal said what has been happening was not good for anyone.
“Seems some rough situation,” Nadal added. “It’s normal that the people here in Australia get very frustrated with the case because they have been going through a lot of very hard lockdowns, and a lot of people were not able to come back home.
“I believe in what the people who knows about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. That’s my point of view.”
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