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'Good Thing to Catch COVID': Tennis Star Stefanos Tsitsipas Angers Greek Gov't With Vaccine Remarks

© REUTERS / John E. SokolowskiAug 12, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece returns a ball to Karen Khachanov of Russia (not pictured) at Aviva Centre
Aug 12, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece returns a ball to Karen Khachanov of Russia (not pictured) at Aviva Centre - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.08.2021
Tsitsipas is not the first tennis player to criticise COVID vaccines; reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic has also expressed skepticism about the vaccines and has refused to get inoculated.
The Greek government has slammed French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas for his views against taking COVID-19 vaccines and spreading anti-vaccine theories in the country.
"He does not have the knowledge and studies to assess the need for vaccinations," Government Spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said in a press conference on Friday.
"Stefanos Tsitsipas is a great athlete, his skills in sports and his contribution to sports in the country is unquestionable," he said. "What is at stake, however, is his ability to assess the need for vaccinations or whether the vaccine has been tested for a sufficient period of time. And...he has neither the knowledge nor the studies nor the research work that would allow him to form an opinion about it."
"I would say that those who, through their excellent presence and performance in other areas, are also a point of reference for wider social groups, should be doubly careful in expressing such views," he added. 
Meanwhile, Tsitsipas, who was born in Greece's capital Athens, has been avoiding the vaccine as he "sees no reason for someone in my age group to be vaccinated."
The World No. 3 insisted that his rigid stance on getting inoculated would not change unless the authorities made it mandatory to get vaxxed.
"No-one has made it a mandatory thing to be vaccinated. At some point I will have to, I'm pretty sure about it, but so far it hasn't been mandatory to compete, so I haven't done it, no," he said. "I'm young, under 25 category, for me the vaccine has not been tested enough, it is new. It has some side effects."
"I personally know some people who have had them. I'm not against it, I just see no reason for someone in my age group to need to be vaccinated," he added.
Tsitsipas, who is a staunch critic of the vaccines, even said that if young people get infected with the virus it could help them to build an immunity against the deadly disease.
"Everyone has the right to decide what they want to do. If you want to protect yourself with the vaccine, your problem, go and do it," he said. "For us young people, I think it is good to pass the virus, because we will build immunity. I do not see it as something bad."
The tennis world has been largely divided on getting the jab, with the ATP tour throwing its support behind the inoculation of players. While both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have got their first jabs, Djokovic hasn't shown any kind of interest in getting vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Greece has successfully inoculated more than half of its population of 10.7 million. 
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