Novak Djokovic is okay with vaccines in general, he just doesn’t want them personally

Next week, the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament begins in New York. The W&S Open usually takes place in Mason, Ohio, but with the pandemic, the US Tennis Association worked out a scheme to get players in New York for a three-week period for the W&S Open and then the US Open immediately following that. Most players are already in New York, being tested daily for the coronavirus, and being contained in an NBA-esque “bubble” between the USTA-approved hotel and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (where no fans are allowed this year). The USTA also gave a few exemptions to various players who wanted to rent their own private accommodations, although those players have to pay for their own security and they still have to adhere to Bubble Life.

Novak Djokovic is one of the players who rented a separate place, but he tells the New York Times that he’s happy with the Bubble Life accommodations made by the USTA. Djokovic was last in the news several months back, when he organized the ill-fated Adria Tour, a European exhibition tour with zero social distancing and little testing. And full crowds in multiple cities, and shirtless club dancing. Many of those guys ended up testing positive for the virus, including Novak. He spoke about all of that with the Times, as well as his statements this past spring which seemed to indicate that he’s an anti-Vaxxer. And just FYI: he’s still the #1 men’s player in the world, and his words have so much weight in the sport and across the world.

On his rented NYC home: “With the trees and serenity, being in this kind of environment is a blessing. And I’m grateful, because I’ve seen the hotel where the majority of players are staying. I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything like that, and I know the U.S.T.A. did their best in order to provide accommodation and organize everything and organize these bubbles so the players can actually compete and come here, but it’s tough for most of the players, not being able to open their window and being in a hotel in a small room.”

On the Adria Tour: “We tried to do something with the right intentions. Yes, there were some steps that could have been done differently, of course, but am I going to be then forever blamed for doing a mistake? I mean, OK, if this is the way, fine, I’ll accept it, because that’s the only thing I can do. Whether it’s fair or not, you tell me, but I know that the intentions were right and correct, and if I had the chance to do the Adria Tour again, I would do it again.”

What the coronavirus felt like for him: Djokovic said his coronavirus symptoms were mild, lasting four to five days. He said he had no fever but did have fatigue and some loss of smell and taste and sensed some loss of stamina when he initially returned to practice. But with concern mounting about the long-term health effects of the virus, Djokovic, who favors a plant-based diet and natural healing when possible, said he was closely monitoring himself and looking into long-term effects. “I’ve done a CT scan of my chest, and OK, everything is clear. I’ve done several tests since my negative test for the coronavirus as well before coming to New York,” he said. “I’ve done my blood tests, my urine tests, my stool tests, everything that I possibly can. I’m obviously doing that prevention anyway but of course now more than ever because we don’t really know what we’re dealing with.”

On vaccines: “I see that the international media has taken that out of context a little bit, saying that I am completely against vaccines of any kind. My issue here with vaccines is if someone is forcing me to put something in my body. That I don’t want. For me that’s unacceptable. I am not against vaccination of any kind, because who am I to speak about vaccines when there are people that have been in the field of medicine and saving lives around the world? I’m sure that there are vaccines that have little side effects that have helped people and helped stop the spread of some infections around the world.”

A potential coronavirus vaccine. “How are we expecting that to solve our problem when this coronavirus is mutating regularly from what I understand?”

On the shirtless nightclub dancing during the Adria Tour: “I agree things could have been done differently with the nightclub. The sponsors organized. They invited players. We felt comfortable. We had a successful event. Everybody was really happy and joyful…. We’ve done everything they asked us to do, and we followed the rules from the Day 1… [but] when someone from Australia or America looks at what was happening in Serbia, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, I mean are you crazy? What are these people doing?’ So I really understand.”

A witch hunt? “I don’t think I’ve done anything bad to be honest. I do feel sorry for people that were infected. Do I feel guilty for anybody that was infected from that point onward in Serbia, Croatia and the region? Of course not. It’s like a witch hunt, to be honest. How can you blame one individual for everything?”

[From The NY Times]

Whew, this is A LOT. It’s not a witch hunt, and there were people in real time questioning the wisdom of the Adria Tour’s conditions WITHIN EUROPE. Every single person who saw those shirtless nightclub videos were horrified, and he’s acting like it was just a handful of nitpickers who just personally hate HIM. No, Novak. As for what he says about vaccines… it’s still an anti-Vaxx mess, honestly. He’s still talking about vaccines like they’re a personal choice and not a vital, no-brainer public health issue. And he also seemed to indicate that he was looking forward to being outside of the USTA Bubble… ten bucks says the USTA kicks him out of New York before the US Open even starts.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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