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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Djokovic says he is prepared to skip Wimbledon and French Open to avoid vaccination

Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis star, last month in Montenegro. His hopes of competing for a 21st Grand Slam title in Australia were blocked by a standoff over his vaccination stance.

By Jenny Gross

Novak Djokovic said he was prepared to miss the French Open, Wimbledon and other tournaments if he was required to get a coronavirus vaccine to compete.

In an interview with the BBC that aired on Tuesday, the Serbian tennis star said he believed in having the freedom to choose whether to get vaccinated and that the ability to make the decision about what goes into his body was “more important than any title, or anything else.”

Djokovic said he understood that his vaccination status meant that he was “unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the moment,” but, he added, “That is the price that I’m willing to pay.”

Djokovic’s decision to remain unvaccinated, which came weeks after he was unable to compete in the Australian Open, may delay his quest to win more Grand Slam titles than his rivals. (The Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal was able to clinch a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.)

The French authorities said last month that players must be vaccinated to compete in the French Open, the next of the four Grand Slam tournaments. Djokovic might be able to compete in Wimbledon in June, but according to recent guidelines, he may not be able to compete in the United States.

Djokovic told the BBC that he was not against vaccinations generally and that he did not want to be associated with the anti-vaccination movement, but that his decision was personal.

“As an elite, professional athlete, I’ve always carefully reviewed, assessed everything that comes in from the supplements, food, the water that I drink or sports drinks — anything, really anything that comes into my body as a fuel,” he said. “Based on all the informations that I got, I decided not to take the vaccine as of today.”

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