Skip to content

Novak Djokovic says he is prepared to miss Wimbledon & French Open in order to avoid coronavirus vaccine

Novak Djokovic says he is not against vaccination, but he is prepared to miss Grand Slams in order to maintain control of what goes into his body, and the right to choose; "Yes, that is the price that I'm willing to pay," when asked if he would sacrifice participating in tournaments

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts just after getting third set during the men's singles final of the Championships, Wimbledon against Matteo Berrettini of Italy at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, United Kingdom on July 11, 2021.   ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )
Image: Novak Djokovic says he will not defend his Wimbledon or French Open titles if the tournaments require mandatory vaccination for competitors

Novak Djokovic says he was not against vaccination but would not defend his Wimbledon or French Open titles if he was forced to take the jab against Covid-19.

Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, was deported from Australia ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year after 11 days following two visa cancellations, two court challenges and five nights at an immigration detention hotel.

"Yes, that is the price that I'm willing to pay."
Djokovic is willing to miss more events over vax rules

"I was never against vaccination," he told the BBC, "but I've always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body."

Despite watching his rival, Rafael Nadal, winning a record 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne last month, the world No 1 says he will not defend his Wimbledon or French Open titles if the tournaments require mandatory vaccination for competitors.

"Yes, that is the price that I'm willing to pay," Djokovic said when asked if he would sacrifice participating in the competitions.

"I say that everybody has the right to choose or act or say or feel whatever is appropriate for them."

He went on to explain: "The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can."

Also See:

Novak Djokovic holds the trophy after his win over Italy's Matteo Berrettini in the men's singles final match of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London. Djokovic is 26-0 in Grand Slam matches in 2021, moving him two victories away from being the first man to win all four major tennis championships in one season since Rod Laver in 1969. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, Pool)
Image: Djokovic is a six-time Wimbledon champion but will he defend his title at the All England Club this summer?

Djokovic also distanced himself from the anti-vaccination movement, despite being deported from Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open last month amid concerns about his vaccine status.

He said: "I have never said I'm part of that movement.

"It's really unfortunate that there has been this kind of misconception and wrong conclusion based upon something that I completely disagree with," he added.

He told the broadcaster he was "keeping [his] mind open" to the possibility of getting vaccinated in the future "because we are all trying to find collectively, a best possible solution to end Covid".

"I was never against vaccination. I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus."

Novak Djokovic arrives in Belgrade following his deportation from Australia (AP)
Image: Djokovic spoke about his deportation from Australia

Djokovic addressed his deportation from Australia after some had suggested that it was convenient he had tested positive for Covid in mid-December.

The timing allowed him to be granted a medical exemption to attend the tournament.

Djokovic said: "I understand that there is a lot of criticism, and I understand that people come out with different theories on how lucky I was or how convenient it is.

"But no one is lucky and convenient... getting Covid. Millions of people have and are still struggling with Covid around the world.

"So I take this very seriously, I really don't like someone thinking I've misused something or in my own favour, in order to, you know, get a positive PCR test and eventually go to Australia.

"I was really sad and disappointed with the way it all ended for me in Australia. It wasn't easy.

"I was not deported from Australia on the basis that I was not vaccinated, or I broke any rules or that I made an error in my visa declaration.

"The reason why I was deported from Australia was because the Minister for Immigration used his discretion to cancel my visa based on his perception that I might create some anti-vax sentiment in the country or in the city, which I completely disagree with."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Djokovic returned to his native Serbia where he was greeted by dozens of fans at Belgrade airport

The Serbian is set to return to action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which begin on February 21.

Entrants to Dubai do not need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and it is a tournament Djokovic has won five times.

Participation in Indian Wells, Miami and the US Open in serious jeopardy

Novak Djokovic (SRB) poses with the trophy after defeating Milos Raonic (CAN) in the men's singles final at the BNP Paribas Open played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Indian Wells, CA (Photo by Cynthia Lum/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
Image: The world No 1 is a five-time winner at Indian Wells

Neither the ATP nor WTA tours require players to be vaccinated against Covid-19. However, non-US citizens must be fully vaccinated to travel to the US by plane, according to the CDC.

Travellers are required to show a negative Covid-19 test result or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 when traveling to the US by air. Limited exceptions apply.

Djokovic is a five-time champion at Indian Wells, where he hasn't played since 2019. Fans attending Indian Wells from March 7-20 are required to show valid proof of full vaccination.

The world No 1 hasn't played a match since November at the Davis Cup in Madrid.

What about the French Open and Wimbledon?

Serbia's Novak Djokovic smiles while holding the cup after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Sunday, June 13, 2021 in Paris. Djokovic won 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Image: Djokovic is a 20-time Grand Slam champion but still not vaccinated, and prepared to sacrifice titles to stay that way

Speaking in January, the French Sports Ministry said there would be no exemption from a new vaccine pass law, which requires people to have vaccination certificates to enter public places such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas.

"This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson. And this is until further notice," the ministry said.

"As far as Roland Garros is concerned, it's in May. The situation may change between now and then and we hope it'll be more favourable. So we'll see but clearly there's no exemption."

Organisers of the Monte Carlo Masters, which Djokovic has won twice, are awaiting French government guidelines for the next edition in April, while he could face issues ahead of the Italian Open in Rome in May due to tough anti-Covid restrictions in the country.

Wimbledon organisers AELTC are also yet to finalise safety arrangements for the major.

The Lawn Tennis Association said entry requirements for its events, some of which serve as Wimbledon warm-ups, would be determined by the government.

The US Open would follow New York City Department of Health guidelines.

Don't forget to follow us on, our Twitter account @skysportstennis & Sky Sports - on the go! Available to download now on - iPhone & iPad and Android

Around Sky