Novak Djokovic
Why Was Novak Djokovic Deported From Australia? A Timeline Of The Tennis Star’s Visa Fight Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic is ready to give up future tennis tournaments like the French Open and Wimbledon, rather than be forced to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

"I was never against vaccination," he told in an exclusive interview with the BBC, confirming he previously had vaccines as a child. "But I've always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body." During his first in-depth interview since he was detained in Melbourne in January, Djokovic addressed speculation about the timing of his positive Covid-19 test in December and discussed his perception of the vaccine.

Despite being hopeful of vaccination requirements to be changed in competitions, Djokovic confirmed he was willing to forego the chance to become statistically the greatest male tennis player of all time, “The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can."

"I was never against vaccination. I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus," he said. Djokovic added he understands the consequences of his decision to not get vaccinated, "That is the price that I'm willing to pay."

Djokovic went to Melbourne on Jan. 5, however, he was immediately placed in temporary detention, having his visa canceled because he did not have a valid medical exemption for the vaccination requirement for all arrivals.

Despite Djokovic's team arguing that the tennis star was under the impression he could enter the country because he had received a medical exemption from the tournament organizers, Australian law declined his entrance to the country. Australia only provides medical exemptions to people who can prove they have suffered anaphylaxis after a previous dose, or any component of a vaccine, or are significantly immunocompromised.

Djokovic shared his tough experience in pursuit of the Australian Open title. A judge rejected the government's decision to cancel his visa and ordered him to be freed, allowing Djokovic to resume training for the Australian Open. However, days before the tournament, Australia's Immigration Minister Alex Hawke chose to cancel Djokovic's visa again, and the player was put back in detention, arguing that the tennis player posed risk to public health and order, and could encourage anti-vaxxers.

Before the tennis season's first grand slam Djokovic was tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with 20 grand slam singles titles. However, Nadal went on to win the Australian Open, getting him his 21st grand slam singles title, the most all-time titles in men's tennis.

Djokovic is scheduled to return to action at the Dubai Tennis Championships later this month, where participants do not need to be vaccinated.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

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