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Novak Djokovic says he would rather sacrifice trophies than get Covid vaccine

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N

ovak Djojovic has said he would rather miss out on the opportunity to compete for more tennis trophies than get the Covid vaccine.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner said if he was unable to compete in other major tournaments such as Wimbledon and the French Open it would be a “price I’m willing to pay”.

The tennis champion was deported from Australia last month after the government cancelled his visa, citing the fact he had not been vaccinated.

Speaking to the BBC in his first interview since the saga, Djokovic confirmed he had not had a Covid vaccine. He said he had previously had vaccines as a child.

“I was never against vaccinations,” he said. “I understand that globally everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus. And hopefully soon there’ll be an end to this virus.

“And vaccination is probably the biggest effort that was made on behalf of the planet, and I fully respect that. But I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put into your body, and for me that’s essential.

The men’s World No 1 tennis player said he kept an “open mind” but he was prepared for the consequences of his decision not to get vaccinated.

“The consequence of my decision was not going to Australia, and I was prepared not to go. And I understand not being vaccinated today, I’m unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the moment … and that is the price I’m willing to pay.”

Asked by the BBC’s Amol Rajan whether he was ready to risk the chance of becoming the greatest tennis player statistically over his views, Djokovic replied: “Yes, I do”.

He added: “Because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else”.

However, the star declined association with ‘anti-vaxxers’, saying: “I have never said I am part of that movement. No-one during the whole Australian process and saga has asked me for my stance and my opinion on vaccination, no-one, so I could not express what I really feel”.

Djokovic, whose competitor Rafael Nadal has won 21 Grand Slams, said he hoped the rules could be changed to allow him to play for “many more years”.

To enter Australia for the Australian Open, Djokovic had submitted a positive test issued in Serbia on Dec. 16 for a visa exemption on the grounds that he had recently recovered from the virus.

He is not vaccinated, and the Australian government then later decided to cancel his visa and deport Djokovic, saying his presence in Australia could stir anti-vaccination sentiments.

The full BBC interview with the tennis star will air on BBC One at 8.30pm on Tuesday, February 15.

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