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Novak Djokovic willing to sacrifice Grand Slams over vaccination stance

Djokovic willing to sacrifice Grand Slams over vaccination stance
© Reuters
World number one Novak Djokovic insists that he would be willing to sacrifice future Grand Slam tournaments over his vaccination stance.

World number one Novak Djokovic has said that he is prepared to sacrifice future Grand Slam tournaments over his vaccination stance.

Djokovic was blocked from playing in the Australian Open last month due to his refusal to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Serbian was detained upon his arrival in the country and eventually deported after the government cancelled his visa.

Djokovic currently has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, one behind Rafael Nadal on the all-time list after the Spaniard won the Australian Open in Djokovic's absence.

However, he insists that he would be willing to forego opportunities to move to the top of that list if they demanded that he be vaccinated in order to compete.

Asked whether he would miss the French Open and Wimbledon over his vaccination status, Djokovic told BBC Sport: "Yes, that is a price I am willing to pay.

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

"I was never against vaccination. I understand that globally everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and hopefully seeing an end soon to this virus and vaccination was probably the biggest effort made – probably half the planet was vaccinated.

"I fully respect that. But I have always represented and supported the freedom to choose what you put into your body. For me, it is essentially the principle of deciding what is right and wrong for you, and me, as an elite athlete, I have always carefully reviewed and assessed everything that has come in from the food, the supplements, the water, the sports drinks, anything that comes into my body as a fuel.

"Based on all the information that I got, I decided not to take the vaccine as of today. I keep my mind open, there is always the possibility that things will change in the future.

"As of today, this is my decision and stance for it and I will suffer the consequences of not travelling to the tournaments, but hopefully things will be able to change in the future. We will see what happens."

Current rules would seemingly allow Djokovic to play at this year's French Open and Wimbledon, although he would require a vaccination certificate to play at the US Open.

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Novak Djokovic pictured at the French Open on June 9, 2021
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