Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic, who had been held in detention since Wednesday after Melbourne airport officials decided he did not provide a valid medical reason for not being vaccinated, is now cleared to compete in and try to defend his Australian Open title.
While the world number one has taken centre stage for his stance against vaccines, he isn’t the only sportsperson to be sceptical about the jab.
Here’s a list of five others, as curated by news agency AFP:
1. Aaron Rodgers
Three-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers has been vocal about being antivaccinated. The 38-year-old Green Bay Packers star has portrayed himself as a victim at the hands of a ‘woke mob’ and ‘cancel culture’.
Rodgers had been ordered to sit out of a game that cost him a nine-year sponsorship with the American Healthcare company, Prevea Health after his vaccination status was made public.
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback has also claimed that he is ‘immunized’ since he has taken ‘alternative treatment’.
On NFL’s COVID guidelines, he said, “Some of the rules to me are not based in science at all. They’re based purely on trying to out and shame people, like needing to wear a mask at a podium when everyone in the room is vaccinated and wearing a mask makes no sense to me,” said Rodgers, according to USA Today.
The star player has asserted that two of the vaccines contained a certain ingredient he was allergic two. Cases of ‘adverse events’ also contributed to his scepticism, he said.
2. Joshua Kimmich
The German footballer had said in October that he was against being vaccinated due to “fears and concerns”.
The 26-year-old went on to contract the disease in November. The midfielder had lung damage that didn’t allow him to play for the coming months. This, and the long-term impact of covid that he faced, made him regret his decision to not get vaccinated.
“Broadly, it was just difficult for me to deal with my fears and concerns, and that’s why I remained undecided for so long,” Kimmich told ZDF.
“Maybe I had to go through what I have now gone through first. Of course, looking back, I would like to make the vaccination decision earlier, but at the time it wasn’t possible for me,” he added.
He has, since then, booked a vaccination appointment.
3. Bryson DeChambeau
American golfer Bryson DeChambeau expressed no regret for being unvaccinated even after contracting COVID-19 in August 2021 and missing the Olympics.
The eight-time-PGA Tour champion said, “The vaccine doesn’t necessarily prevent it from happening,” reported ABC News.
“I’m young enough, I’d rather give it [the vaccine] to people who need it. I’m a healthy, young individual that will continue to work on my health,” he said.
The 28-year-old, who had lost10lbs (4.5 kilos) due to the disease, has said that he would consider taking the vaccine if it met his standards.
4. Kyrie Irving
The Brooklyn Nets NBA player spent the first two months of the season sidelined because of his decision to not get vaccinated for COVID.
Calling it a ‘personal choice, the 29-year-old said in October, “I am doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here, and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is, that’s the role I play.”
Irving can still not play home games due to New York’s vaccine mandates.
5. Tennys Sandgren
Tennis player Tennys Sandgren did not even attempt to get the medical exemption to play at the Australian Open, which eventually became the reason behind the Djokovic row.
The 30-year-old sportsman said he did not meet the conditions required to get the exemption.
He did, however, come in support of his fellow player to say, “Just to be crystal clear here. Two separate medical boards approved his exemption. And politicians are stopping it. Australia doesn’t deserve to host a grand slam.”