BBC issue statement amid strong criticism over Novak Djokovic interview

BBC issue statement amid strong criticism over Novak Djokovic interview

 

The BBC has responded to complaints about the prominence of its interview with tennis star Novak Djokovic in which the world No. 1 outlined his Covid vaccine scepticism. Djokovic was incredibly deported from Australia ahead of January’s Australian Open as he is unvaccinated against the virus.

Tennis Australia had initially granted Djokovic an exemption to take part in the maiden Grand Slam in 2022.

 

But the country’s government took a different view and felt that the 34-year-old should not enter Down Under.

 

 

Australian citizens endured strict rules to prevent the spread of the virus and immigration minister Alex Hawke argued that Djokovic’s presence could put individuals at risk.

A court back-and-forth ensued, with Djokovic initially allowed to remain before he was deported following an appeal.

 

 

 BBC issue statement amid strong criticism over Novak Djokovic interview

His absence at the tournament meant Rafa Nadal was able to move ahead of Djokovic in overall Grand Slams by winning a record 21st major.

The reigning Wimbledon champion remained silent on his ordeal until last week when he was interviewed by the BBC.

 

 

Djokovic is sceptical about taking the Covid vaccine and is in favour of ‘freedom of choice’.

“I was never against vaccination,” the Serbian told the BBC’s media editor Amol Rajan, “but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”

Djokovic confirmed he had been given vaccines as a child but admitted he was willing to risk not being allowed to enter future Grand Slams over his vaccine stance.

 

 

 BBC issue statement amid strong criticism over Novak Djokovic interview

Asked why, he continued: “Because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”

The BBC received complaints from viewers who felt that such a stance on vaccines should not be given such prominence by the national broadcaster.

However, the corporation has argued the interview was of topical interest.

 

 

A statement read: “The BBC’s exclusive interview is the first time Novak Djokovic has spoken about his position himself, and our news editors judged that the interview was of genuine significance and was of interest to our audience, particularly in light of what unfolded in the build-up of the Australian Open in January.

“We appreciate that not everyone will agree with our choice of story running orders, but we consider that this has been a big ongoing news story which also encompasses key issues such as mandatory vaccination and international travel restrictions.”

 

 

 BBC issue statement amid strong criticism over Novak Djokovic interview

“It was very, very hard,” Djokovic said of being detained and then deported from Australia.

“While I was still at the airport, I couldn’t use my phone for three, four hours. I was lost, really, I didn’t know what was happening.”

 

 

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