Djokovic says he may reconsider his anti-vaccination stand

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FILE – In this Feb. 29, 2020, file photo, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during the final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The heads of the ATP and WTA professional tennis tours tell the AP that they are coordinating with each other as they weigh how to reschedule the sport’s calendar for whenever play can resume after the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Novak Djokovic has reiterated he is against taking an anti-coronavirus vaccination if it becomes mandatory to travel once the pandemic subsides, but says he’s open to changing his mind.

The top-ranked Djokovic said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, ’’Personally I am opposed to the vaccination against COVID-19 in order to be able to travel.

“But if it becomes compulsory, I will have to make a decision whether to do it or not. This is my current feeling, and I don’t know if it will change, but it really influences my profession.”

A vaccine hasn’t been made yet, but some such as Amelie Mauresmo have said the world tennis tours shouldn’t restart until there is one.

Djokovic caused a stir in a live Facebook chat with fellow Serb players on Sunday when he said that if a vaccination was compulsory when the tours resume then he “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone” to take it.

In his statement on Tuesday, Djokovic said many tennis players and other athletes have asked him for his opinion on this situation.

“I have expressed my views because I have the right to and I also feel responsible to highlight certain essential topics that are concerning the tennis world,” he said.

Djokovic and his wife Jelena advocate natural healing and not vaccinations, and said that like the rest of the world, he was “a bit confused.”

“I am no expert, but I do want to have an option to choose what’s best for my body,” he said. “I am keeping an open mind, and I’ll continue to research this topic because it is important and it will affect all of us.”

Prominent Serbian epidemiologist Predrag Kon, a member of the state team fighting the spread of COVID-19, said Djokovic should not have made anti-vaccination statements because of his huge public influence in his native Balkan country.

Djokovic won the Australian Open in January for his 17th grand slam singles title, and the ATP suspended its tour in March because of the global virus outbreak.

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AP writer Jovana Gec contributed.

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