World No. 1 Novak Djokovic says he's not sure what he will do if tennis players are required to have vaccines against the coronavirus once the sport returns to the court.
Speaking during a Facebook livestream from Spain where he is isolated with his family during the pandemic, the Serbian player said he is opposed to vaccinations in general and "wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel."
“But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision," he said in the April 19 chat with several other Serbian athletes on Orthodox Easter.
As with most of the global sporting world, the tennis season has been waiting to resume since halting play in early March. Both the men's ATP and women's WTA tours have said play is suspended until at least mid-July.
With almost 2.5 million cases confirmed worldwide and over 166,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, the world is racing to find a vaccine to treat the illness.
There have been calls from some in the tennis world for all players to be vaccinated when the season eventually resumes.
“Hypothetically, if the season was to resume in July, August, or September, though unlikely, I understand that a vaccine will become a requirement straight after we are out of strict quarantine and there is no vaccine yet,” the 32-year-old said.
“I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts [on being vaccinated] will change at some point, I don’t know," he added.
Some people like Djokovic refuse vaccinations because of concerns about side-effects or industry ethics.
But medical professionals say vaccines, which train the immune system to prevent people developing a disease, such as COVID-19, are safe and vital to at least controlling outbreaks of viral illnesses.
Experts note that if enough people become immune, the coronavirus won't be able to spread as easily, thus limiting the need for other measures such as social distancing.
Currently dozens of groups around the world, including major pharmaceutical companies, are trying to develop a vaccine. Some are already running trials on humans.
Djokovic started the 2020 season with a bang, winning the Australian Open in January for his 17th Grand Slam title.