Novak Djokovic says he’s “opposed” to the idea of mandatory coronavirus vaccination

Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic said he’s “opposed to vaccination” and doesn’t like the idea of being required to get a coronavirus vaccine in order to return to playing, once a vaccine is developed. He made the controversial remarks in a Facebook chat with other Serbian athletes Sunday.

“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,” Djokovic said, according to a translation from Reuters. “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.” 

Public health officials say it’s likely to take at least a year to 18 months before a vaccine could become available. The World Health Organization said in a report last last week that three potential vaccines are currently being tested in clinical trials and 67 others are in earlier stages of evaluation. 

In March, retired tennis star Amelie Mauresmo tweeted that there should be no return to pro tournaments until there’s a vaccine. 

“International circuit = players of all nationalities plus the staff, spectators and people from the 4 corners of the world who bring these events to life,” she wrote. “No vaccine = no tennis.” 

Much like the rest of the sports world, tennis has faced cancellations of its events amid the pandemic. Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945 — in the middle of World War II. The French Open, originally slated to start in mid-May, was rescheduled for the fall.