MADRID (AP) — Rafael Nadal says Novak Djokovic will need to be vaccinated to keep playing if the governing bodies of tennis make coronavirus shots obligatory once they become available.
Nadal told the Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia this week that Djokovic and all players will have to follow the rules when tennis eventually returns to action.
Nadal said no one can be forced to take the vaccine and everyone should be free to make their choices, but all players will have to comply if tennis officials require “vaccination to travel” and to “protect” everyone on the tour.
“Then Djokovic will have to be vaccinated if he wants to keep playing tennis at the top level,” Nadal said. “The same for me. Everyone will have to follow the rules, just like now we have to stay at home.”
Djokovic recently said he was against taking a vaccine for the coronavirus even if it became mandatory to travel. He later said he was open to changing his mind.
Nadal recently said he was pessimistic about the return of tennis in 2020. He said that if given the option, he would scrap this season entirely so tennis could resume normally in 2021.
Djokovic won the Australian Open in early February, before sports were brought to a halt because of the virus. It was his 17th Grand Slam trophy overall. Only Roger Federer, with 20, and Nadal, with 19, have won more men’s Grand Slam singles trophies than Djokovic.
More than 30 sanctioned events have been scrapped since early March until at least mid-July. Wimbledon was canceled for the first time in 75 years, while the start of the French Open has been postponed from May until September.
The U.S. Open is scheduled to begin in New York in late August, but organizers said they will decide in June if that tournament will be held at all.
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