Tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic is against any compulsory vaccinations for players returning to the game after the coronavirus hiatus, and faces a dilemma if forced to do so himself.
“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 Serbian star said in a live Facebook chat with other athletes.
“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.”
Last month, former women’s world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo said the rest of the 2020 tennis season might be wiped out, saying action should not resume before players could get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
“International circuit = players of all nationalities plus management, spectators and people from the 4 corners of the world who bring these events to life. No vaccine = no tennis,” the two-time grand slam winner said in a widely shared tweet.
Medical experts have said vaccines against the deadly respiratory virus will not be ready until next year, raising doubts whether any further tennis tournaments can be contested this year.
This year’s Wimbledon championship was cancelled for the first time since World War II while the French Open, originally due to be held from May 24-June 7, was rescheduled for September 20-October 4, shortly after the end of the US Open.
Djokovic made a flying start to the 2020 season, winning the Australian Open in January for his 17th grand slam title. He had stretched his winning run to 18 matches before the virus pandemic brought sports events across the world to a halt.
So far the governing bodies of tennis have suspended all tournaments until July 13.
In addition, the women’s Rogers Cup in Montreal, which was due to be held in August, will also not take place this year.
Earlier, Djokovic and fellow big names Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal wrote to the sport’s top 100 players, asking them to contribute to a support fund to help those struggling during tennis’s lockdown.
Djokovic, who heads the ATP’s Player Council, wants his peers to donate on a sliding scale of between $47,000 for the top five to $8000 to those below No 50.