Former world number one Novak Djokovic will miss the U.S. Open after he said on Thursday that he will not be able to travel to New York for the tournament, having chosen not to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Current rules require travelers to show proof of full vaccination to board flights to and enter the United States.
“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” Djokovic wrote on Twitter. “Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had previously pointed out the hypocrisy of the policy that prevents Djokovic from playing, detailing that it requires proof of vaccine for legal visitors, but not for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants.
United States senator Rand Paul said he finds it "ironic" that large numbers of migrants are ilegally entering the country at the southern border, while tennis great Novak Djokovic can't because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/LOyfFsa3U3
— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2023) August 22, 2022
The Serbian previously said he was prepared to miss Grand Slam tournaments that require participating players to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Djokovic was on the entry list for the Aug. 29-Sept. 11 tournament in New York.
The 35-year-old was also unable to defend his Australian Open crown this year after being deported from the country over his vaccination status.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) described Djokovic‘s absence as “unfortunate” but looked forward to having him back at Flushing Meadows next year.
“Novak is a great champion and it is very unfortunate that he will be unable to compete at the 2022 US Open, as he is unable to enter the country due to the federal government’s vaccination policy for non-U.S. citizens,” said U.S. Open tournament director Stacey Allaster in a statement.
“We look forward to welcoming Novak back at the 2023 US Open.”
Many had hoped to see Djokovic on the Flushing Meadows hard courts where he has hoisted the trophy three times and reached the final on six other occasions.
The hashtag #LetNovakPlay has been circulating on social media as Djokovic‘s fans voiced their support for a player who moved to within one of Spaniard Rafa Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles after his Wimbledon triumph last month.
Many pointed out the lack of logic in keeping the rule in place despite the recent change in guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet Djokovic cannot play in the US Open. Unbelievable, they are not even pretending to follow their own science… pic.twitter.com/sHIcLMNICu
— Dr. Eli David (@DrEliDavid) August 25, 2022
Fans had also been circulating an online petition in the hope of gaining Djokovic entry into the U.S. while four-times U.S. Open winner John McEnroe had said it would be “a joke” if the Serb was unable to compete due to his COVID vaccination status.
Others, including players, have taken the position that rules are rules, and if you want to play you must follow the guidelines.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters (Additions and edits for FISM News by Jacob Fuller)