Novak Djokovic, the world number one ranked men's player, has reiterated his stand about freedom of choice over taking the Covid-19 vaccine as suspense grows over his participation at the Australian Open in January.
Serbian Djokovic has repeatedly declined to disclose his vaccination status and said last month that he was unsure if he would defend his title at Melbourne Park, “things being as they are”.
Government officials of the state of Victoria, where the major takes place in Melbourne, have said unvaccinated players will be barred from the tournament.
Tennis maverick Nick Kyrgios said on his podcast this week that he was "double-vaxxed" but did not think it was right to force anyone, let alone athletes, to get vaccinated.
Responding to the comments from Kyrgios, who has criticised Djokovic on numerous occasions in the past for various reasons, the Serbian said: “That was unexpected knowing what was coming from him towards me in the last couple of years.”
“But this time I must agree with him that the freedom of choice is essential for everyone, whether it’s me or somebody else,” the 34-year-old told reporters in Turin, Italy, where he is competing at the season-ending ATP Finals.
“Doesn’t really matter whether it’s vaccination or anything else in life. You should have the freedom to choose, to decide what you want to do. In this particular case, what you want to put in your body.”
Melbourne has had the most cumulative days locked down of any Australian city since the coronavirus pandemic began. Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said he would not apply for permits to allow unvaccinated athletes to enter the country.
“I have been always a proponent of that and always a supporter of freedom of choice, and I will be always supporting that because freedom is essential for I’d say a happy and prosperous life,” added Djokovic, who has won 20 major singles titles including a record nine Australian Open crowns.