World No. 1 men’s-tennis star Novak Djokovic gave his first big interview since being deported from Australia last month after a drawn-out dispute over his unvaccinated status. That rough experience seems only to have strengthened his resolve not to cave to modern science.
Speaking to the BBC’s Amol Rajan, Djokovic said that he has no plans to get a COVID vaccine, and that missing the French Open and Wimbledon — the next two Grand Slam tournaments on the tennis calendar — is “the price I’m willing to pay.”
Djokovic, known for his ultra-fitness and flexibility, is no stranger to quackery, having suggested, for example, that it is possible to change the molecular structure of water with the power of emotions. But in the BBC interview, he denied being an anti-vaxxer, telling Rajan that “I was never against vaccination” and leaving open the possibility of getting a shot in the future. He framed his decision as purely a matter of bodily autonomy.
“The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else,” he said. “I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.” Apparently, introducing evil, evil mRNA into his bloodstream doesn’t jibe with that plan.
Djokovic is now the only unvaccinated player in the men’s Top 100. His intransigence already cost him a chance to win his 21st major title at the Australian Open, which he has won nine times, and paved the way for Rafael Nadal to do so instead. He may or not be able to play in France given the country’s rules around prior infections, and his U.S. Open could be in jeopardy too. But it seems likely that he will be able to play at least one Grand Slam this year: Wimbledon. The British government does not require vaccination for visitors to the U.K., and the Telegraph reports that the tournament — which Djokovic won last year — is unlikely to impose a stricter policy.