Spotlight turns to Novak’s bizarre beliefs
NOVAK Djokovic's beliefs are once again under the spotlight, with his tennis tournament rocked by a COVID-19 outbreak.
The world No.1 and three other tennis stars have tested positive to coronavirus after competing in the Serbian's Adria Tour, an exhibition event that proceeded with zero social distancing and no protocols in place to prevent the spread of the disease.
Djokovic's wife, Jelena, has also tested positive.
Players who competed at the tournament hugged, danced topless in nightclubs and mingled with ball kids as they displayed an unwillingness to accept the seriousness of the global pandemic.
Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim told The Tennis Channel the decision to hold the Adria Tour represented a "fundamental failure to understand the science" behind COVID-19, and it's not the first time Djokovic's views - some of which he shares openly on social media - have caused controversy.
Jelena's beliefs have also sparked headlines, such as earlier this year when Instagram slapped her with a "false information" tag for posting a video that linked the cause of COVID-19 to 5G.
POSITIVE VIBES CAN MAKE POLLUTED WATER HEALTHY
During lockdown, the 17-time grand slam champion streamed several Instagram Live video chats with Chervin Jafarieh as part of a series called The Self Mastery Project, where they delved into all matters health and self-improvement.
Jafarieh is the founder of wellness brand Cymbiotika who believes "in a higher and divine order that is rooted in the only truth, which is love".
In one of their conversations in May, the pair discussed how one can change polluted water into drinkable water or toxic food into healthy food with the power of the mind.
"It's the connection that you're talking about, the innate connection and really being present and being conscious of the moment and being conscious of the fact you're drinking water," Djokovic said.
"I've seen people and I know some people that, through that energetical (sic) transformation, through the power of prayer, through the power of gratitude, they manage to turn the most toxic food or the most polluted water, into the most healing water.
"Because water reacts and scientists have proven that, that molecules in the water react to our emotions, to what is being said."
Jafarieh added: "They saw if you had specific thoughts, specific emotions on to the water, if they were happy thoughts, if they were good thoughts, they created a molecular structure that had a geo-prism based on sacred geometry meaning there was symmetry and balance."
The assertion people can change the molecular structure of water via good vibes was roundly condemned. Former tennis star turned sportscaster Mary Carillo said she was "disturbed" by the belief and Wertheim added: "It's a very short jump to these conspiracy theories which now, more than ever, are really dangerous.
"There's a real responsibility that comes with being No.1 and that includes respecting science and objective truth."
Amid the Adria Tour uproar, world No. 55 Tennys Sandgren also mocked Djokovic for his beliefs about water.
I told my water it was very handsome anyway— Tennys Sandgren (@TennysSandgren) June 23, 2020
NOVAK OPPOSES COVID-19 VACCINATION
Djokovic said earlier this year he was "opposed to vaccination" and expressed doubts as to whether he would accept a coronavirus vaccine if it became mandatory for tennis players.
"Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn't want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel," Djokovic said in April during a Facebook Live discussion with several Serbian athletes.
"But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision. I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don't know."
The Serb later clarified his position after his comments caused a media storm that saw him labelled an anti-vaxxer. He didn't back down from his remarks, but explained he wants the freedom to choose what goes into his body.
"I am no expert, but I do want to have an option to choose what's best for my body," he said. "I am keeping an open mind, and I'll continue to research on this topic because it is important and it will affect all of us.
"To be honest, just like the rest of the world I am a bit confused. Despite having access to information and resources, I am left in doubt about what could be the best thing to do."
HOLISTIC HEALING DOESN'T PAY OFF
Djokovic wanted to believe his body was capable of healing itself, so put off surgery for an elbow injury that had worried him for nearly two years before finally going under the knife in February 2018.
That reluctance to embrace traditional medicine was cited by his former coach and tennis legend Andre Agassi as a key reason for their split.
"I think there was a real hope his elbow could heal naturally, holistically. I personally wasn't a fan of that choice," Agassi said.
"You can't force someone when it comes to their own body, you have to understand their hesitations, but health is a function of taking care of your body, making the hard decisions, giving yourself the time and then moving forward methodically. Rest wasn't going to do it in my estimation.
"When I saw the results of his MRIs in August, I was very clear with him: I advocated surgery right away, because that could end the issue once and for all."
Djokovic's hope his elbow would recover naturally never eventuated so in 2018 he "agreed with my team that I would try different methods", resulting in an operation which fixed the issue.
DJOKOVIC EMBRACES HIS SPIRITUAL SIDE
For a long time, Djokovic worked with "spiritual guru" Pepe Imaz, a former player who runs a tennis academy, called "Love and Peace", in Spain for underprivileged children.
It focuses on "wellbeing, feelings and emotions".
Imaz was reportedly the one who steered Djokovic towards a vegetarian diet and encouraged him to gesture towards the crowd and express his love for fans after a win.
Imaz was also responsible for the famous long group hugs that Djokovic shared with his team at every training session and introduced regular meditation into the tennis star's training schedule.
Djokovic and Imaz parted company in 2018 but the mental side of the game is still paramount. During last year's thrilling win over Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, the Centre Court crowd openly booed Djokovic and roared for the Swiss maestro.
Rather than take the taunting personally, Djokovic said he dealt with it by pretending in his head every time spectators chanted "Roger!" they were actually cheering "Novak!"
Originally published as Novak's bizarre beliefs in the spotlight