With anti-social distancing protests sprouting up across the country, the COVID-19 deniers are out in full force. Right on the front lines are anti-vaxxers, many of whom have spent the past few months downplaying the risks of COVID-19 or sharing conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus to push the idea of Big Pharma benefiting from a potential future vaccine.
Apparently, among their ranks is tennis star Novak Djokovic, who came out against vaccines in a livestream on Sunday.
During a conversation with several other Serbian athletes, which was broadcast on Facebook on Sunday, Djokovic expressed his concerns about potentially being forced to get a vaccine in the future in order to be able to professionally compete.
“Personally, I am opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” he said. “But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision. I have my own thoughts about the matter, and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know.”
There is currently no vaccine available for COVID-19, and medical experts estimate that any future vaccine would only become available in 12 to 18 months at the earliest. In this regard, the scenario Djokovic posed was purely hypothetical. It’s possible he was addressing a viral tweet from tennis pro Amelie Mauresmo, who posted earlier this month, “I think we’re going to have to draw a line under the 2020 tennis season. International circuit = players of all nationalities plus management, spectators and people from the 4 corners of the world who bring these events to life. No vaccine = no tennis.”
Currently, due to the pandemic all tennis tournaments have been canceled until mid-July, including Wimbledon, which has been canceled for the first time since World War II. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Open, which is typically held in mid-August, will be held as usual this year.
Editor’s Note: This headline has been updated for clarity about Djokovic’s position as an anti-vaxxer.