Six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker has exclusively told Eurosport that he respects tennis players who want to make a personal, private decision on getting the Covid-19 vaccine, but they also have to understand the rules that have been put in place to keep people safe.
Vaccination rates are a hot topic in tennis right now, with a number of high-profile players, electing to either not get vaccinated, or refusing to disclose their vaccination status.
Speaking to Eurosport on the Eurosport Germany tennis podcast Das Gelbe vom Ball Becker pointed out the importance of considering how much of a lone sport tennis is when it comes to judging players’ decisions.
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However, he did make it clear that any players who either didn’t get vaccinated or were hesitating would have to respect the rules put in place by various tournaments.
"Tennis players are their own entrepreneurs,” Becker said.
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“They don't play for a team and tennis players in general - I know what I'm talking about - are free spirits. We don't like to be pigeonholed. I also heard the numbers and of course I was surprised how many tennis players are not vaccinated. (...) If you look around the world, the number of people who have been vaccinated keeps increasing - I think that's positive.
“According to reports, two thirds of the Premier League footballers are also vaccinated.
Athletes have to grab their own nose and say: ‘If I want to continue doing my sport, then sooner or later I will have to be vaccinated or I will not be able to do my sport.’
“Whether you appreciate it as a private person or not, or have something against it ... I can understand that, but now I'm also an athlete and have to follow the rules. Many athletes find that difficult, but that's the way it is."
Focus on Djokovic
The biggest media focus is on world number one Novak Djokovic, who has not disclosed his status but has expressed doubts about playing in the 2022 Australian Open, with the host state Victoria saying that unvaccinated players won’t be allowed to compete.
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“The main problem is that if you’re on a plane with a person who is [Covid-19] positive, whether they’re vaccinated or not, you automatically [have] to stay in your room for 14 days,” Djokovic said in an interview with Serbian newspaper Blic.
“That happened to Viktor Troicki in January this year. Not only him but 70 players had to be in [hard] quarantine. I’ve talked to a lot of players and that’s remained a bad memory for everyone. So I don’t know if I’ll go to Australia. I don’t know what’s going on. Currently, the situation isn’t good at all.”
'That is his right'
When asked about Djokovic, Becker said he did not know whether the world number one was vaccinated, but added:
“I can understand it [Djokovic's reluctance to disclose his vaccination status] at first. That is his right, that is privacy, that has to be protected.
But if he wants to work as a tennis player, then unfortunately they are rules and for all tennis players who want to go to Australia:
“The state of Victoria requires proof of vaccination. (...) It is completely unimportant what we mean. If the Australian government has decided that way, there is only one solution. "
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