Djokovic bets on a COVID cure as he searches tennis history

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic arrives at Nikola Tesla Airport after the Australian federal court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open, in Belgrade, Serbia, Jan. 17, 2022. REUTERS/Christopher Pike

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COPENHAGEN, Jan. 19 (Reuters) – The pandemic has blocked Novak Djokovic’s foray into tennis history, so the 34-year-old may be pinning his hopes on a cure for COVID to get his hands on another glorious grand slam before time runs out .

The Serbian superstar, who has become the focus of the global vaccine debate over his failed attempt to enter Australia without being vaccinated, has a majority stake in a Danish biotech company looking to develop a treatment to fight COVID-19, the CEO of the company to Reuters. read more

QuantBioRes boss Ivan Loncarevic, who described himself as an entrepreneur, said the tennis player’s acquisition of the 80% stake took place in June 2020, but declined to say how much it was.

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The company is developing a peptide that prevents the coronavirus from infecting human cells and expects to launch clinical trials in Britain this summer, according to Loncarevic, who emphasized the company was working on a treatment, not a vaccine.

The CEO said the company had about a dozen researchers working in Denmark, Australia and Slovenia. According to the Danish Trade Register, Djokovic and his wife Jelena own 40.8% and 39.2% of the company respectively.

A spokesman for Djokovic did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Djokovic has had phenomenal success – Forbes put him on its list of the world’s 50 highest paid athletes for 2021. It calculated his on-court earnings at $4.5 million, dwarfed by the $30 million he said. he earned out of court.

Still, time may not be on the side of the world’s number one in his quest to be seen as the greatest player in history as he moves deeper and deeper into his thirties.

He had desperately hoped to play in the Australian Open this month with his sights set on a 21st Grand Slam title that would take him above arch-rivals Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

The frustrated Djokovic is now in danger of being pushed out of tennis, with rules for unvaccinated travelers in the third year of the pandemic and some tournaments reconsidering waivers.

The most immediate concern is the next grand slam – the French Open in May, where Nadal has already amassed a staggering 13 titles – after the country’s sports ministry said on Monday there would be no exemption from a new vaccine pass law. .

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Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Additional reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Ossian Shine; Editing by Alison Williams and Pravin Char

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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