icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
6 May, 2020 17:13

Rafael Nadal warns anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic MUST get coronavirus jab if required for top-level tennis

Rafael Nadal warns anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic MUST get coronavirus jab if required for top-level tennis

Rafael Nadal has said world number one Novak Djokovic - who recently stated he is against vaccinations - must comply with regulations should he require a jab to resume playing top-level tennis after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Djokovic stated in March that he would be against receiving a vaccination for the coronavirus - which as of yet has not been developed - should it be a future requirement for players on the tour.

The Serbian 17-time Grand Slam winner faced a backlash over the comments but later defended his right to choose - although suggested he would see how things develop before making a firm decision.

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

Fellow 'Big Three' star Nadal, 33, has now said Djokovic would have to "follow the rules" like all other players if a vaccine became a requirement.

“No one can demand [anything] of anyone. Each person is free," Nadal said in an interview with La Voz de Galicia.

"But the truth is if you belong to a circuit, perhaps one has to be governed by the rules that the circuit requires.

"So if the tour obliges to vaccinate to be able to travel in order to protect everyone, Djokovic will have to be vaccinated if he wants to continue playing tennis at the highest level.”

Also on rt.com Give the guy a break: You may not like Djokovic's anti-vaxx views, but he has a right to voice them

“I mean him, but everyone, me too. Each one will have to comply exactly like now we have to stay home.

"If the ATP or the ITF forces us to get a vaccine to play tennis, then we will have to get it.

"Just as we have restrictions on not taking too many medications for obvious doping control issues. It is a matter of following the rules.”

Numerous experts have suggested that a vaccine for widespread use against Covid-19 is still around 12-18 months away.  

Djokovic faced initial criticism for his anti-vaxxer views, including from leading health officials in his native Serbia, who accused him of "spreading misconceptions."

READ MORE: Game changer: German scientists find antibodies that BLOCK coronavirus from spreading further 

However, he has also been defended as having a right to his opinion, having held long-term beliefs regarding a "holistic" approach to medicine and the power of self-healing.

The 32-year-old has even admitted to "crying for two or three days" after undergoing an elbow operation in 2018, feeling guilt that he had cheated his body.

Regarding the resumption of tennis, Nadal has suggested in recent days that the 2020 season should be scrapped altogether to prepare for the start of the 2021 campaign from January.

Also on rt.com Nadal says entire 2020 season should be SCRAPPED as 19-time Grand Slam winner laments players 'losing a year of our lives'

The ATP and WTA tours have been suspended until at least mid-June, although the global nature of the tour and varying Covid-19 situation around the world - as well as differing regulations - could make life difficult for bosses hoping for a restart anytime soon.

Wimbledon has already been canceled, while questions remain over the US Open, which typically runs in August and September, and the rearranged French Open, which is due to follow soon after. 

Nadal and Djokovic have both been active figures in the coronavirus fight in their respective homelands.

Djokovic has donated €1 million (US$1.1 million) in medical supplies in Serbia, while Nadal is spearheading a campaign alongside NBA star Pau Gasol to raise €11 million from Spain's sporting figures to help more than 1 million fellow Spaniards. 

Nadal, Djokovic and fellow 'Big Three' icon Roger Federer have also discussed ways of helping plays lower down the tennis ladder continue to make ends meet during the crisis. 

Also on rt.com 'Why should I give them money?' Top tennis star SLAMS Djokovic, Nadal and Federer's plan to create new fund for struggling players