Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has thrown his short-term tennis future into doubt after revealing he is an anti-vaxxer, which could prevent him from competing if he does not eventually get vaccinated against coronavirus.
The Serbian would normally be gearing up for the French Open right now but the Covid-19 pandemic has seen sport across the globe postponed or cancelled as health services grapple with the virus.
Hospitals around the world have come under enormous stress as they try to deal with the outbreak and the spread will only be curtailed after a mass roll-out of vaccinations – which could take 12-18 months to happen.
There have been growing calls for sport – and tennis in particular – to only start back up again once a vaccination has been produced, but Djokovic has controversially claimed he is uncomfortable with that idea.
‘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,’ the World No.1 said in a Facebook live chat with several fellow Serbian athletes on Sunday.
‘But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision.
‘I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know.
‘Hypothetically, if the season was to resume in July, August or September, though unlikely, I understand that a vaccine will become a requirement straight after we are out of strict quarantine and there is no vaccine yet.’
Djokovic’s stance has been heavily criticised, with mass vaccinations considered vital to the prevention and eradication of coronavirus.
‘We need a vaccine. However, the vaccine is only effective in preventing the disease if we have appropriate vaccine uptake,’ says Dr Scott Ratzan, founder of the International Working Group (IWG) on Vaccination and Public Health Solutions.
‘If people do not take the vaccine and we do not have exposure to a level that would have overall community ‘immunity’ we could have a resurgence in cases of Covid-19 or the next coronavirus.’
Last month, former world No.1 and Andy Murray’s ex-coach Amelie Mauresmo called for the remainder of the 2020 tennis season to be scrapped – with the US Open in the summer still not called off and the French Open merely postponed – and says sport should not resume until a vaccine has been produced.
‘International circuit = players of all nationalities plus management, spectators and people from the four corners of the world who bring these events to life. No vaccine = no tennis,’ she tweeted last month.
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