Novak Djokovic has been branded the “king of stupidity” by former world No. 1 Marcelo Rios for his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Djokovic’s stance saw him deported from Australia earlier this year as he missed the chance to defend his Australian Open title.
He then missed Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami as he was unable to enter the United States, losing his world No. 1 ranking to Daniil Medvedev as a result – although he reclaimed it without playing.
Rios has criticised Djokovic’s decision as he looks to finish his career with the most Grand Slam titles in history.
“It’s stupid, he is going to give up the race and he is not going to be the best in history because of a vaccine,” Rios told La Tercera.
“I thought the same, but then I started travelling and I had to take it.
“I don’t know what the reason is, but if you’re trying to be the best in history and you’re going to give up the race for some vaccines, you have to be the king of stupidity.
“I believe that at first it was out of fear, but now he is being too arrogant.”
Djokovic said in February that he is not “against vaccination” but supports the “freedom to choose”.
He also said he is willing to miss out on future tournaments over his stance.
Djokovic’s only event this year has been in Dubai, where there are no vaccine requirements to enter the country.
But he is set to return at the Monte Carlo Masters this week and looks set to play a full clay schedule as Covid-19 regulations around Europe ease.
As it stands he will be able to defend his French Open title as he aims to join Rafael Nadal atop the all-time Grand Slam standings with 21.
Speaking before facing Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Monte Carlo, Djokovic said: “The last four, five months have been really challenging for me mentally and emotionally, but here I am and I try to leave all that behind and move on.
“I still feel motivation to be on the tour and compete…and try to challenge the best players in the world for the biggest titles.
“It will take some time, some matches, to really get in the groove.”