Novak Djokovic defends Israel visit, vaccination stance
'I think we all are trying to be the best that we can possibly be, and I stay true to my values'
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic spoke to i24NEWS during his visit to Israel, where he played in the Tel Aviv Watergen Open ATP event, saying that he has been "enjoying himself" while in the Jewish state.
"The city has changed," Djokovic said, referring to Jerusalem. "But the energy is the same,” continuing that he could feel similar energy on the court and that Israelis are very "passionate."
"In terms of criticism," he continued, referring to the backlash he received upon the announcement that he would be traveling to Israel, "you know, it's part of what they do. I receive criticism for a lot of different things and decisions that I am making." Many described his visit as "disgusting" and "shameful."
"I'm a professional athlete, and I am a tennis player. And if I choose to play a tournament, there is a reason why I'm choosing that." Djokovic is currently ranked world seventh in tennis.
He further defended his choice to play in Israel, calling it a "very good decision."
When asked by i24NEWS what it's like to have his life decisions questioned, Djokovic responded that it is a "big life experience" for him.
"I think we all are trying to be the best that we can possibly be, and I stay true to my values and the things that I believe in."
Djokovic mentioned that one of those decisions meant that he wasn't able to participate in two Grand Slam tournaments because he refused to get vaccinated for the Covid virus, saying about the experience, "It is what it is."
"I'll take the consequences of that, but I'll stay true to what I believe in."
He continued that the media “hasn’t been very nice” to him.
"The media is not always so nice when there is an agenda. So I have to just deal with it."