Zlatan Ibrahimovic backs Djokovic amid Australian Open saga, slams vaccine requirement

Earlier this month, World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic, dubbed “the world's most famous anti-vaxxer”, was barred from the Australian Open and deported from the country over his vaccination status.

Swedish football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has called compulsory vaccination problematic, following the scandal around his unvaccinated friend and tennis luminary Novak Djokovic, which effectively prevented him from competing in the Australian Open.

“You should not be forced to get vaccinated to be able to go to work,” the 40-year-old Swedish striker said, as quoted by the national broadcaster SVT. “Getting vaccinated for health reasons is not the same as getting vaccinated for a tennis tournament,” he continued.

Ibrahimovic emphasised that that he himself has been vaccinated, but that he didn't do it to be able to play football.

“The person who takes the vaccine does so because they believe that it is effective against the disease. I got vaccinated because I think it protects me, not to be able to play football. These are two different things,” Ibrahimovic said.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, born in Sweden to a Bosnian father and a Croat mother, and Serbia's tennis star Novak Djokovic are friends in private and have been seen hanging out over the years.

Ibrahimovic is widely celebrated as one of the most prolific goal-scorers of his generation and one of the most decorated footballers currently in the game and one of the best players in team Sweden, despite speculations of his career being in its final stages.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the reigning Wimbledon and French Open champion, dubbed “the world's most famous anti-vaxxer”, initially received a medical exemption to be able to complete in the Australian Open. However, following a prolonged battle with the nation's authorities, which included two court hearings, he eventually was forced to leave the country after a three-judge panel announced his deportation, putting a question mark to his further career as numerous tournaments are now banning unvaccinated players.

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