An orthopaedic surgeon who helped re-open sporting events after lockdown said he disagreed with Novak Djokovic’s decision to not get the jab.
15 February 2022
A top orthopaedic surgeon who helped re-open sporting and cultural events as lockdown restrictions lifted said he disagreed with Novak Djokovic’s decision not to get vaccinated.
Professor James Calder, worked with Public Health England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to enable sports to return after lockdown, said it must have been “a really tough decision” for the athlete but said it was “wrong”.
The medic made the remarks after collecting an OBE at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.
The tennis star has refused the vaccine and said he will not defend his Wimbledon or French Open titles if the tournaments require mandatory vaccination for competitors.
Speaking after the ceremony at Windsor, Prof Calder, who has worked with athletes like Gareth Bale and Neymar, told the PA news agency: “That must have been a really tough decision for him.
“Personally I disagree with it and I think it’s the wrong decision.
“I’m pleased that he’s not promoting ant vaccine and he obviously feels incredibly strong because he’s willing to forgo potentially many tournaments ahead of him so he’s absolutely within his rights to make that decision.
“Personally I think he would be better off having the vaccine because the risks of Covid and the complications that can ensue after Covid in elite athletes are greater than the risks of potential risks of having the vaccine.”
The 53-year-old was one of the clinical leads at NHS Nightingale at the ExCel Centre and conducted experiments on how the virus could spread during sporting events to inform decision makers.
Djokovic, 34, who is not vaccinated, said he would forgo tournaments “because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else”.
The player was deported from Australia over his refusal of the vaccine
Djokovic is set to return to action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which begin on February 21, as the tournament does not require entrants to be vaccinated.