LONDON — Novak Djokovic said in an interview aired on Tuesday that he was ready to skip the French Open and Wimbledon if the coronavirus vaccination was needed for him to play.
Speaking to the BBC, the 20-time Grand Slam champion said he was not vaccinated and added that missing the next two major tournaments, where he is the defending champion, and other tournaments is “the price I’m willing to pay”.
“I understand the consequences of my decision,” Djokovic said. “I understand that not being vaccinated today, you know, I can’t make it to 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, it 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 the French Open in May, he replied: “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 when he was kicked out of Australia in January. This follows his failed attempt to stay in the country to defend his Australian Open title despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I never said I was part of this movement,” Djokovic said, adding that “everyone has the right to choose, to act or to say what they deem appropriate for them.”
New York Post