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21 Apr, 2020 19:00

'I have the right to express my views': Djokovic defends anti-vaxxer stance after Covid-19 comments cause stir

'I have the right to express my views': Djokovic defends anti-vaxxer stance after Covid-19 comments cause stir

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has defended comments he made in relation to a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus, saying that he is against mandatory vaccinations for the virus in order to be able to travel.

Djokovic prompted something of a media frenzy this past weekend when he highlighted his concerns about potentially being 'forced' to receive a vaccination for coronavirus - despite this possibly leading to difficulties in traveling the tennis circuit.

Predictably, Djokovic's comments were questioned by science experts along with some of his fellow professionals, who maintain that vaccination is a necessary step required to halt the spread of the deadly virus.

Also on rt.com 'I don't want to be forced to take one': Anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic speaks on fears of compulsory Covid-19 jabs

But in a statement issued to the Associated Press on Tuesday, Djokovic defended his right to express his views, suggesting it would take new information for him to potentially change his mind. 

"Personally I am opposed to the vaccination against Covid-19 in order to be able to travel," Djokovic said.

"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.

"Many tennis players, athletes have reached out to me asking what my opinion is on this whole 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 tennis world.

"To be honest, just like the rest of the world I am a bit confused. Despite having access to information and resources, I am left in doubt about what could be the best thing to do.

"My job requires lots of travel, some are saying that for us who travel, we would have to take the vaccine that is yet to be developed.

"Therefore, I would like to repeat and point out that at this moment we do not have adequate information. We don’t know if there will be new measures, which of them will be taken, will we have a choice to decide on our own what to do or not with the vaccine."

The 'anti-vaxx' movement has gained prominence in recent years but has been directly blamed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for a recent resurgence in diseases like measles, diphtheria, tuberculosis, yellow fever and others.

Dr Scott Ratzan, founder of the International Working Group (IWG) on Vaccination and Public Health Solutions, notes that a vaccine is only effective if it is administered en masse to the populace.

"If people do not take the vaccine and we do not have exposure to a level that would have overall community ‘immunity’ we could have a resurgence in cases of Covid-19 or the next coronavirus," he said.

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Former world number one Andy Roddick said that he isn't convinced that Djokovic would maintain this stance if it involves him not being granted medical permission to compete at future Grand Slam events.

"The bottom line is not whether or not he believes in vaccinations, it’s what safest to bring tennis back to the forefront on a global stage. And that is going to be with testing that’s going to be with vaccination that’s going to let us get back to what we know as normal," Roddick told the Tennis Channel.

"So, again Novak said this himself. I don’t have to agree with his stance. He knows that he’s going to have a decision to make. I’ll be curious to see how deep his belief system runs if he’s gonna to sit out Grand Slams because he doesn’t want to take a vaccination shot."