January 10, 2022 | VICE News

Conspiracists are backing tennis star Djokovic amid controversy at the Australian Open

Recent controversy around Novak Djokovic’s vaccine status at the 2022 Australian Open has sparked online debate among conspiracists if the tennis star should be the new face of the “unvaxxed sperm” movement, the supposed anti-vaxx version of ‘bitcoin.’

“Across many COVID-skeptic and COVID-conspiracy communities online, Djokovic is being raised up as a hero by those who see him as a champion of sorts for the unvaccinated, including some groups who’ve adopted hashtags like #IStandWithDjokovic,” Aoife Gallagher and Ciarán O’Connor, told VICE News.

Djokovic publicly confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 in December and was later seen attending an event at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade, according to reports. He has since released a statement explaining the timeline of events leading up to his trip to Australia, which he originally secured with a medical exemption, despite the tournament’s strict vaccine guidelines.

Gallagher and O’Connor also told VICE News how rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who have criticised Djokovic’s decisions, are being dragged into wider conspiracies about working with Bill Gates.