‘Freedom over what you put in your body’ – Djokovic on Covid vaccine
The first Grand Slam of 2022 is set to be played at Melbourne Park from January 17 onwards.
While Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had first suggested that unvaccinated players would have to complete quarantine upon arriving Down Under, authorities in the state of Victoria such as Premier Daniel Andrews insist they will be barred from participating in the tournament.
Defending champion Djokovic, 34, refuses to disclose his vaccination status, asserting that he would wait until official confirmation of Melbourne protocols before announcing whether he would play at the season-opening Slam.
Currently competing in Turin at the ATP Finals which end the season, Djokovic was probed on comments by past critic Nick Kyrgios.
On a podcast this week, the bad boy admitted to being double-vaxxed but didn't think it was right to force anyone into following suit.
"That was unexpected knowing what was coming from him towards me in the last couple of years," Djokovic told reporters.
"But this time I must agree with him that the freedom of choice is essential for everyone, whether it's me or somebody else."
"[It] doesn't really matter whether it's vaccination or anything else in life. You should have the freedom to choose, to decide what you want to do. In this particular case, what you want to put in your body," Djokovic continued.
"In this particular case, what you want to put in your body.
"I have been always a proponent of that and always a supporter of freedom of choice, and I will be always supporting that because freedom is essential for I'd say a happy and prosperous life," he finished.
Kyrgios had previously been criticized by Victoria's Sports Minister Martin Pakula for suggesting that the Australian Open be canceled.
On Instagram, Kyrgios later claimed that his comments were "taken out of context."
"It's more so for the people of Melbourne, who have gone through hell and back," he clarified.
"I think it's been nearly 300 days of lockdown and your freedom has been taken away from you."
"I don't think it's morally right to accept players from overseas that aren't vaccinated to come into our country."
That seemed to backtrack on the comments Kyrgios had made on his podcast, when he asserted that Djokovic – whom he once called a "tool" for demanding more relaxed hotel quarantine conditions for players ahead of the 2021 Australian Open – should be allowed to defend his crown, while also referencing NBA vaccine outcast Kyrie Irving.
"Kyrie, Novak… These guys have given so much, sacrificed so much. They are global athletes who millions of people look up to," said Kyrgios.
"I just think it is so morally wrong to force someone to be vaccinated. I'm double vaccinated, but I just don't think it's right to force anyone and say: 'you can't come and play here because you're not vaccinated'."
"There are other solutions around it, [such as] to get tested every day," he suggested.
"In the States I know they've got rapid tests, and it's coming to Australia. It's [an] 85 per cent success rate, you wait 15 minutes and then you're allowed to play," Kyrgios concluded.