London – Novak Djokovic said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday that he was ready to skip the French Open and Wimbledon if vaccination againstis necessary for him to play.
Speaking to the BBC, the 20-time Grand Slam champion said he was still not vaccinated against COVID-19. This status also led to his Januarywhere he lost his attempt to stay in the country to defend his Australian Open title.
The tennis player told the BBC that missing the next two major tournaments, where he is also the defending champion, and other tournaments is “the price I am willing to pay”.
“I understand the consequences of my decision,” Djokovic said. “I understand that not being vaccinated today, you know, I can’t travel for most tournaments at the moment.”
The 34-year-old Serb said he was not opposed to vaccinations but believed in “the freedom to choose what you put in your body. And, for me, that is essential”.
“I try to be in tune with my body as much as possible,” he said, adding that he was always careful with everything he ingested. “Based on all the information I have obtained, I have decided not to take the vaccine, starting today.”
When asked if he would be willing to miss Roland-Garros in May, he repeated: “That’s the price I’m willing to pay.”
Also asked if he would be willing to skip Wimbledon, he added: “Yes.”
“Because the principles of decision-making on my body are more important than any title or anything else,” he said.
Djokovic has won Roland-Garros twice, including in 2021, and has six Wimbledon titles, including the last three.
Djokovic, however, has distanced himself from anti-vaccination activists. Some claimed him as their hero during the Australia saga.
“I never said I was part of this movement,” Djokovic said, although he also said that “everyone has the right to choose, to act or to say what they deem appropriate for them. “.
Vaccination rules in France could change in the months leading up to Roland Garros, possibly allowing Djokovic to play. The country has started easing some of its health and travel restrictions as it recovers from a record rise in infections fueled by the highly contagious variant of Omicron.
Last week, the French government gave a late March, early April deadline for the possible lifting of its vaccine requirement which, for now, puts unvaccinated players at risk of missing the French Open.
From Tuesday, anyone not vaccinated against the coronavirus will have to prove that they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous four months – down from the previous six-month window – in order to access the sites. athletes in France. French law, which assumes you have some protection against the virus if you’ve recently contracted it, aims to ban unvaccinated people from stadiums, restaurants, bars and other public places.
Djokovic previously said he tested positive in mid-December. If the four-month requirement remains in place, he is likely to be kicked out of Roland-Garros unless he is vaccinated or tests positive again within four months of the start of the Grand Slam on clay on May 22.