Novak Djokovic, a Serbian professional tennis player and Grand Slam winner, has vowed he would prefer to miss out in the Wimbledon and the French Open than being forced to take a Covid-19 vaccine.
Djokovic, the world’s number one men’s tennis player, acknowledged that he hasn’t taken the Covid-19 vaccine and doesn’t intend to do so moving forward even it if costs him the Grand Slam tennis tournaments.
Djokovic disclosed this in a chat with spoke with the BBC and also stated that he’s not an anti-vaxxer.
“I’ve never said that I’m part of that movement,” Djokovic told the BBC.
“Yes, that is the price I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic said.
When pressed about his stance, Djokovic reiterated his belief that everyone should have the freedom to choose whether or not to be vaccinated. He didn’t address the negative public health impacts that come with a personal choice to refuse a vaccine that’s dramatically thwarted the impact of a virus that’s killed more than 5.8 million people.
Djokovic instead maintained that in his position as a professional athlete, he’s meticulous about what does and doesn’t go into his body.
“Me as an elite professional athlete, I’ve always carefully reviewed, assessed everything that comes in from supplements, food, sports drink, the water that I drink, sports drinks — anything that comes into my body as a fuel,” Djokovic said. “Based on all the information that I got, I decided not to take the vaccine.”
Djokovic didn’t divulge exactly what information convinced him against taking a vaccine that’s received full FDA approval in the United States whose rare instances of side effects are overwhelmingly outweighed by the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. He’s never addressed those specifics publicly but has provided insight into what influences his beliefs.
He’s appeared on a video with a coach who promotes telepathy and telekinesis. He’s hosted Instagram chats with a wellness guru while claiming that toxic food and polluted water can be purified via emotions, prayer and “energetical transformation.”
“I know some people that, through energetical transformation, through the power of prayer, through the power of gratitude, they managed to turn the most toxic food, or maybe the most polluted water, into the most healing water, because the water reacts,” Djokovic said during a 2020 Livestream, per the New York Times. “Scientists have proven that in the experiment, those molecules in the water react to our emotions to what has been said.”
The 20-time Grand Slam winner was deported from Australia last month after the government cancelled his visa in a row over his vaccine status.
Djokovic, who is the world’s number one men’s tennis player, said he had obtained a medical exemption to enter the country to play in the Australian Open as he had recently recovered from Covid-19.