As we discussed yesterday, ATP world #1 Novak Djokovic said some problematic sh-t about vaccines over the weekend. He was in some kind of group chat with other Serbian players and he said, in part (this is a translation): “Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel. But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision.” He was referencing the idea that for tennis players to travel internationally, the tour might make a coronavirus vaccine compulsory. Nevermind that a vaccine doesn’t exist yet, and nevermind that in all likelihood, the tour will probably start up again before a vaccine is even mass-produced.
Djokovic’s comments got a lot of attention from the international media. Yeah, Novak might not have Roger Federer’s fame and reputation, but Novak is still pretty famous and this is not the look that tennis wants, especially from its #1 player. The New York Times went to Djokovic and asked for clarification. Novak released this new statement through his rep, but did not clarify if he’s against ALL vaccines (aka anti-Vaxx).
“Personally I am opposed to the vaccination against COVID-19 in order to be able to travel. But if it becomes compulsory, I’ll have to make a decision whether to do it, or not. This is my current feeling. I don’t know if it will change, but it really influences my profession. Many tennis players, athletes have reached out to me asking what my opinion is on this whole situation. I have expressed my views because I have the right to and I also feel responsible to highlight certain essential topics that are concerning [the] tennis world.
“To be honest, just like the rest of the world I am a bit confused. Despite having access to information and resources, I am left in doubt about what could be the best thing to do. My job requires lots of travel. Some are saying that for us who travel, we would have to take the vaccine that is yet to be developed. Therefore, I would like to repeat and point out that at this moment we do not have adequate information.
“We don’t know if there will be new measures, which of them will be taken, will we have a choice to decide on our own what to do or not with the vaccine. I would like to know more details about the whole process, before making right decisions. I am curious about wellbeing and I am going to spend the whole lifetime learning about the body and how we can empower our metabolism to be in the best shape to defend against imposters like Covid-19. My fullest respect and gratitude goes to all the noble and compassionate medical people who are giving support to the ones that need it the most. I am no expert, but I do want to have an option to choose what’s best for my body. I am keeping an open mind, and I’ll continue to research on this topic because it is important and it will affect all of us.”
Yeah, he’s an anti-Vaxxer, he speaks in circles and refuses to confirm whether he’s anti-vaccine across the board (which is just what an anti-Vaxxer does). This really bothers me! And think about this too: he and his wife Jelena Djokovic have two small children, and those kids travel internationally too. Are Novak and Jelena refusing to vaccinate Stefan and Tara? I bet that’s the case and it suuucks. As for what he says specifically about a coronavirus vaccine (which doesn’t exist) and the completely theoretical mandate that all tennis players would have to be vaccinated… I really don’t get why he’s stuck on that issue alone? It seems so picayune and so far away, the idea that we’ll have widely available and effective vaccines AND that the ATP tour would make those vaccines mandatory.
Photos courtesy of WENN.