Marcelo Rios, former No. 1 in the world, has called Novak Djokovic ‘stupid’ over his vaccination stance.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic missed the Australian Open in January after being deported from the country due to his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
His fierce rival Rafael Nadal ended up winning the season’s first grand slam in Melbourne, advancing to 21 in the race to finish with the most slams.
Djokovic – who was also absent from Indian Wells and Miami due to restrictions on unvaccinated players – will play at the Monte Carlo Masters this week.
And Rios, the 2008 Australian Open runner-up, believes Djokovic should be vaccinated soon as it affects his career and could prevent him from ending up as the best tennis player ever.
In a speech to the newspaper La Tercera, Rios said: ‘I thought the same thing [initially]but then I started traveling and I had to take it.
‘I do not know what the cause is, but if you are trying to be the best in history and you want to give up the race for some vaccines, you must be the king of stupidity.
‘I think it was out of fear at first, but now he’s too arrogant.’
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, Djokovic has been at the center of a series of controversies.
During the height of the crisis two years ago, he launched the Adria Tour in 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, after the rollout of vaccines, Djokovic has argued for freedom of choice, and after his Australian Open debacle, he has been recognized as a leading figure for anti-wax protesters.
However, in an interview with the BBC in February, the 34-year-old denied that he was against vaccines.
“I’ve never been against vaccination,” he said. ‘But I have 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 likely be no restrictions for unvaccinated players.
MORE: Novak Djokovic was given the green light to defend the French Open title after Covid restrictions were eased
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