The BBC has defended its interview with Novak Djokovic after some viewers complained it was “irresponsible” to give him a platform to air his views against the coronavirus vaccine.
The world number one tennis player, 34, spoke about his decision to not have the jab and his high-profile deportation from Australia during the interview with the broadcaster’s media editor Amol Rajan, which was billed online as a “world exclusive”.
Djokovic’s continued resistance to being vaccinated has emerged as the biggest threat to his quest to firmly establish himself as the best male player of all time.
The BBC said it received complaints from some viewers who felt the interview was given too much prominence and that it was “irresponsible” to amplify his views on the vaccine.
A statement shared on the broadcaster’s complaints site said: “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.
“There are still many people who choose not to be vaccinated and we think it is important to hear from all sides of the discussion.
“However the BBC has always made clear the scientific and medical consensus on vaccination and its effectiveness, and we have done so throughout our coverage of this story.”
On Monday, Djokovic played his first match, at the Dubai Tennis Championships, since he was denied entry into the Australian Open in January.
Last month, the Duchess of Sussex complained to the BBC about Rajan’s reporting of her legal case against the Mail On Sunday in his podcast.
And last year, BBC Two documentary The Princes And The Press, which Rajan fronted, was jointly criticised by the royal households – Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace – for giving credibility to “overblown and unfounded claims”.
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