By Paul Farrell and Stephen M. Lepore For Dailymail.Com
Novak Djokovic will not be allowed to play in the US Open due to his refusal to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
The US Open organizers have said they would respect the government’s rules on non-citizens being fully vaccinated in order to enter the country, ruling out Djokovic.
Djokovic’s anti-vaccine stance has been well-documented. In January 2022, he was deported from Australia prior to the Open in Melbourne over his refusal to get vaccinated.
Following the drama Down Under, Djokovic, 35, said that he would not get the jab just to compete in tournaments.
The former world number one told the BBC in February that he had vaccines as a child and that he was not ‘against vaccinations.’
He added: ‘I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.’
Djokovic was hopeful of competing in Flushing Meadows next month but won’t risk a repeat of the deportation furor he went through in Australia.
The Serbian superstar has won the US Open on three occasions.
He was named on the entry list for the final grand slam of the year on Wednesday, but that is routine, rather than an indication that he will be allowed to play.
The list is made up of the highest ranking players in the world. Djokovic is currently ranked seventh. He is only one major win away from tying with fellow legend Rafa Nadal for 22 major titles.
Djokovic kissing the Wimbledon trophy following his victory over Nick Kyrgios following a more than three hour battle on center court on July 10
Djokovic told reporters last week: ‘I’m not going to go to America if I don’t have permission, so the Australian saga for me was not pleasant at all’
Over 17,000 signed a Change.org petition calling for the USTA and leaders in Washington to allow Novak Djokovic to compete
Djokovic said when asked about playing at the US Open: ‘I’m not going to go to America if I don’t have permission, so the Australian saga for me was not pleasant at all.
‘People still think I forced my way to Australia and tried to come in with no papers, permission or exemption – it is not true.
‘That was proven in the court cases, so I would never go into a country where I didn’t have permission to travel.
‘I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best Grand Slam results in that country.
‘Hopefully I can be there in January because I want to be there, and I also want to be in New York.
‘I want to be in America and everywhere I can possibly play.’
Djokovic has been victorious at Flushing Meadows on three occasions, here is pictured following his most recent triumph in 2018
Djokovic after winning his first US Open title in September 2011 following his defeat of Rafa Nadal
Djokovic infamously broke his racket during his most recent appearance at the US Open in 2021 following his loss to Daniil Medvedev
After his Wimbledon victory, Djokovic said that he was on ‘vacation.’
He added: ‘Whether or not I’m playing any tournament soon, I’ll definitely be resting for the next couple weeks because it has been quite an exhausting and demanding period for me the last few months.’
Over 17,000 signed a Change.org petition calling for the USTA and leaders in Washington to allow Novak Djokovic to compete, CNN reported.
While the US Open, the country’s biggest annual tennis event, does not have a vaccination mandate in place, they are following rules set by the United States’ government.
The US still bans travel into the country for anyone who does not get vaccinated.
‘The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens,’ the tournament said in a statement.
Djokovic remains the most prominent player to refuse the jab.
‘There is absolutely no reason at this stage of the pandemic to not allow Djokovic to play at the US Open 2022. US Government and USTA must work together to allow him to play. If unvaccinated American players can play, Djokovic as one of the legends of the game must be allowed to play. MAKE IT HAPPEN, USTA!’ the petition states.
A statement from the US Open, which does not have its own vaccination rules, read: ‘Per the Grand Slam Rule Book, all eligible players are automatically entered into the men’s and women’s singles main draw fields based on ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event.
‘The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens.’
Djokovic won his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title weeks earlier after he defeated a fiery Nick Kyrgios in four sets in June.
His coach, Goran Ivanisevic, who won Wimbledon in 2001, told a Croatian news outlet in July that there was more chance of him making a comeback at 50 than there was of Djokovic playing in Queens in August.
During the interview, Ivanisevic called Djokovic’s treatment in Australia a ‘catastrophe.’
The Serbian star’s Australian visa was cancelled in January 2022, preventing him from taking part in the Open in Melbourne
Under Australian rules, those who have been deported are not allowed back into the country for three years, putting in doubt his future participation in a Slam he has won nine times.
There is, of course, very much something he could do – join the 5.2 billion people who have been vaccinated. Asked whether he had ‘completely closed his mind’ to that option, the 35-year-old replied: ‘Yes.’
His loss in the 2021 final to Daniil Medvedev prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Australian tennis chiefs are confident that he will be able to resume his pursuit of Grand Slams in Melbourne in 2023 after creating a massive controversy and having his visa canceled during the 2022 event.
The reason is that the new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, is expected to take a more sympathetic view of the Djokovic case than his predecessors. Albanese is a huge tennis follower who plays the sport several times a week.
The PM has a close dialogue with Tennis Australia — far closer than the previous administration — and will be keen to rescind the three-year bar on entry after the international incident that unfolded this year.
Tennis Australia have said the matter is not their decision, but the outcome is expected to be that Djokovic plays, in the hope of potentially equaling Rafael Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam titles.
While Djokovic is highly unlikely to be in New York, another former champion will be after Serena Williams was named on the entry list.
The US Open begins in Flushing Meadows on August 29.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group