The 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic isn’t changing his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine any time soon, even if it means sacrificing championships in the future.
“Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic told the BBC when asked if he would be willing to miss out on tournaments requiring him to get the jab.
Djokovic told the BBC that he received vaccinations as a child, but is against the vaccine mandates that have been implemented since the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I was never against vaccination,” he said in an interview with the BBC, “but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”
The world’s number one tennis player became the face of the anti-mandate movement in January, when he was denied entry into the Australian Open due to his vaccination status.
Djokovic first had his visa canceled on Thursday, January 6, by Australian authorities after he “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia.”
The nine-time winner of the Australian Open arrived in Australia Wednesday, January 5, in order to participate in the 2022 Australian Open, and after a lengthy standoff with Australian officials, was told that he would not be allowed into the country. Djokovic’s medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine — which was granted by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government — was the reason for the standoff.
The Victorian government is a state-level authority.
Djokovic’s lawyers challenged the decision by Australian authorities, and it emerged that Djokovic was granted the medical exemption due to recovering from COVID-19 in December 2021.
“I understand that there is a lot of criticism, and I understand that people come out with different theories on how lucky I was or how convenient it is,” he acknowledged.
“But no-one is lucky and convenient of getting Covid,” Djokovic told the BBC. “Millions of people have and are still struggling with Covid around the world. So I take this very seriously, I really don’t like someone thinking I’ve misused something or in my own favor, in order to, you know, get a positive PCR test and eventually go to Australia.”
His visa was canceled a second time after Djokovic’s lawyers won an appeal against the federal government. The second cancellation came from Australian Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke, and was due to the risk that his “vaccine skepticism posed a risk to public health and good order of Australian society.’
“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” Hawke said in a statement.
“The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement continued.
In his interview with the BBC. Djokovic said he has not dismissed the idea of getting the COVID-19 vaccine in the future.
“I was never against vaccination. I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus,” he said.
Djokovic’s participation in the upcoming French Open is very much in doubt after France approved a vaccine pass law which will require proof of vaccination in order to enter public places. This includes Roland Garros, home of the French Open.
“The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is promulgated, in establishments that were already subject to the health pass,” the French Sports Ministry said according to Reuters.
“This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson,” the ministry continued. “And this until further notice.”
The ministry said that while things could change between now and the start of the French Open, there would be “no exemptions” to the vaccine requirement.
“Now, as far as Roland Garros is concerned, it’s in May,” the ministry added. “The situation may change between now and then and we hope that it will be more favorable. So we’ll see, but clearly there’s no exemption.”
The French Open will be played from May 22 to June 5.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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