Former world No.1 Marcelo Rios has called Novak Djokovic stans his vaccination over ‘stupid’.
The 20-time grand-slam champion Djokovic missed the Australian Open in January after he was deported from the country’s account of his decision not to vaccinate against Covid-19.
His fierce rival Rafael Nadal ended up winning the season’s first grand-slam in Melbourne, nudging ahead to 21 in the race with the most slams.
Djokovic – who was also absent at Indian Wells and Miami due to restrictions on unvaccinated players – is set to play at the Monte Carlo Masters this week.
And Rios, the 2008 Australian Open runner-up, says Djokovic should be vaccinated as soon as he is affected by his career and possibly stopping him as the greatest tennis player of all time.
Speaking to La Tercera newspaper, Rios said: ‘I thought the same [initially]but then I started traveling and I had to take it.
‘I don’t know what the reason is, but if you’re looking for the best history and you’re going to give up some vaccines for the race, you have the king’s stupidity.
‘I believe that at first it was out of fear, but now he is too arrogant.’
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, Djokovic has been at the center of a number of controversies.
During the height of the crisis two years ago, he launched the Adria Tour of the Balkans which involved a series of exhibition events. But the scheme was abandoned after a sudden outbreak of the virus at one of its tournaments.
Meanwhile following the rollout of vaccines, Djokovic has argued for the freedom of choice and following his Australian Open debacle as a leading figure for anti-vax protesters.
However, in an interview with the BBC in February, the 34-year-old denied that he was vaccinated.
‘I was never vaccinated,’ he said. ‘But I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.’
Djokovic hopes to play at the French Open and Wimbledon this year where there will be no unvaccinated players on any restrictions.
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