Novak Djokovic has raised eyebrows by refusing to answer whether he will have a Covid-19 vaccination.
Djokovic caused controversy earlier in the pandemic when he said he was against vaccination, and was widely criticised for the Adria Tour that saw a host of players test positive due to the lax protocols that were in place during the exhibitions in the Balkans.
The 18-time grand slam winner is back in his native country for the Serbia Open, where the tournament director is his brother Djordje Djokovic. Some players there have been able to take up an offer of vaccination due to over-supply in the area, leading to questions for the world number one on the programme is being rolled out globally in a bid to combat the pandemic.
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“It is a very sensitive subject," he began.
“A lot of people want to go back to their normal life, whatever that was, and trying to avoid infecting anyone or getting infected themselves, I understand that, it’s a responsibility.
“But when it comes to vaccinations, I’ve always been a proponent of liberty and freedom of choice.
I think this is something right now that I just don’t want to get involved in. If I say yes or no, I would be drawn into one team, so to say, and then there’s a lot of, I guess, conflict right now between people that want to get vaccinated and people who don’t want to get vaccinated.
"The only thing I’m asking is for people to respect my decision to keep the decision to myself and that’s it
“Whoever wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated and I respect that, who doesn’t want to, doesn’t have to.
"I’m not a doctor, I’m not a virusologist, to knowledgeably speak about this, but from what I’ve been seeing from outside…there’s a lot of diversity and opinions on what needs to be done.
“Freedom of choice is what I’m advocating for.
"I will keep the decision as to whether I’m going to get vaccinated or not to myself, I think it’s an intimate decision and I don’t want to go into this game of pro and against vaccines.
I just don’t want to be labelled as someone who is against or who is for vaccines."
There has been debate as to whether vaccine passports will be brought in on the ATP Tour, where players would need to provide proof of vaccination to participate in events.
Djokovic is against such a scenario, and hopes it will not happen.
"There has been a lot of un-clarity, I would say, as to whether there’s going to be a compulsory mandatory vaccination in order to take part on the ATP Tour, I don’t think it will come to that," he said. "I hope not, because I’ve always believed in freedom of choice.
"I hope that it doesn’t become compulsory. I can say that clearly right now, because I’m clearly against that.”
On the court, Djokovic breezed into the semi-finals with a 6-1 6-3 victory over countryman Miomir Kecmanovic.
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