Novak Djokovic says he will not defend his Wimbledon or French Open titles if the tournaments require mandatory vaccination for competitors.
“Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay,” the world No.1 told the BBC when asked if he would sacrifice participating in the competitions.
“I say that everybody has the right to choose or act or say or feel whatever is appropriate for them.”
He also distanced himself from the anti-vaccination movement, despite being deported from Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open last month amid concerns about his vaccine status.
Novak Djokovic says he would rather skip future tournaments than be forced to get a Covid jab, in an exclusive BBC interview https://t.co/vLNeBvgp0M
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) February 15, 2022
He said: “I have never said I’m part of that movement.
“It’s really unfortunate that there has been this kind of misconception and wrong conclusion based upon something that I completely disagree with.
“I understand the consequences of my decision.
“I understand that not being vaccinated today, you know, I am unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the moment.”
The 20-time major champion is set to return to competitive action at an ATP tournament in Dubai next week for the first time since he was deported ahead of the Australian Open, the year’s first tennis grand slam.
Another win at Melbourne Park, where Djokovic has won nine titles, could have taken him to a men’s record 21 major wins.
But instead it was his long-time rival Rafael Nadal who nudged ahead by lifting the trophy.
“I was never against vaccination,” he said, adding that he took vaccines as a child.
“But I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.
“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.”