Sports

Djokovic threatens to skip French Open, Wimbledon over COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Novak Djokovic tennis
Posted at 2:18 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 14:18:02-05

LONDON — Novak Djokovic says he is prepared to skip the French Open and Wimbledon if vaccination against the coronavirus is required for him to play.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion told the BBC that missing the next two majors and other tournaments is "the price that I am willing to pay."

The Serbian player says he understands that not being vaccinated means he is "unable to travel to most of the tournaments."

"Because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can," Djokovic told the BBC

Djokovic did distance himself from anti-vaccination campaigners, some of whom claimed him as their hero during the saga in Australia.

"I was never against vaccination," he told the BBC. "But I've always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body."

Djokovic planned to play in the Australian Open in January after being granted an exemption to Tennis Australia's strict vaccine mandates due to his recent COVID-19 infection. However, after arriving in Melbourne, Djokovic was detained in a local hotel while immigration authorities investigated his case.

Courts initially ruled he could stay in the country. However, Djokovic was later forced to clarify the timeline of his infection, causing immigration officials to revoke his visa again. Courts declined to reinstate the visa on appeal just hours before the start of the tournament, forcing him to leave the country.

Djokovic's rival, Rafael Nadal, won the Australian Open, therefore taking the lead for the most all-time Grand Slam tournament wins. Djokovic trails Nadal in Grand Slam wins, 21 to 20.