Unvaccinated Djokovic ponders if ‘political logic’ will force him to miss US Open
Novak Djokovic has said it is “not the end of the world” if he is forced to miss the US Open because of his unvaccinated status but has questioned if there is a “political logic” behind the circumstances which mean he will be sidelined.
Djokovic is currently in action at Wimbledon where he is seeking to win a fourth successive title, but as things stand the Serbian star will not be able to contest this season’s closing Grand Slam in New York in August.
That’s because US entry rules prevent foreign visitors from jetting into the country if they have not been jabbed against Covid-19 – something which Djokovic has reiterated that he is unwilling to do.
Speaking to members of the Serbian press in London, the 20-time Grand Slam champion questioned why he would be forced to miss out.
“No unvaccinated people can enter the USA as of this moment,” said the 35-year-old in comments shared by Tennis Majors.
“I did hear unofficially that some people got away with it, some people who are not ‘famous’, but I would never even try to go to the USA if it is not allowed.
“Some people think that I made that mistake in Australia, but it was the contrary in fact – I had the [medical] exemption etc, let’s not go over the same story again.
“Bottom line is: if I am told that I cannot go, I won’t go, I would never put myself in such a position. Even if I get in, they would see me on TV playing tennis and pick me up!” Djokovic added.
The Serbian star was deported from Australia at the start of the year in an unsavory row centering on his vaccination status, despite arriving with a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open after recovering from a Covid infection in December.
Djokovic was then forced to miss US events at Indian Wells and Miami in March because of American vaccine rules, but he was free to play at the French Open in May and June before arriving in the UK for Wimbledon.
As things stand, the US Open website says that fans hoping to attend the 2022 edition of event “will not be required to show proof of vaccination” although its protocols for players “are still being evaluated.”
Based on the policy for ticketholders, it seems likely that any unvaccinated US players – such as men’s ace Tennys Sandgren – will be able to play, while Djokovic can’t because he won’t be able to gain entry to the country as an unvaccinated foreigner.
Djokovic was free to play at last year’s tournament in New York and reached the final at Flushing Meadows before being beaten by Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.
However, the Biden Administration implemented travel rules in November of last year which required any non-citizens flying into the US to be vaccinated.
Earlier this month, US player Sandgren was critical of American tennis officials not doing more to support Djokovic’s case.
“Pretty shameful that the USTA won’t fight for an exemption for Novak. No surprise the government hasn’t changed its archaic policy. I can play but he can’t? Ridiculous,” wrote Sandgren on Twitter.
Djokovic said he was grateful for that kind of support, telling the Serbian media in London: “I have been texting with Tennys Sandgren a few days ago. I wanted to thank him for the public support he has given me in this situation.
“What he said makes total sense – if unvaccinated players are not allowed to compete at the US Open, then it should be the case for everyone.
“I don’t see the medical logic behind it, that Tennys can play because he is a citizen of the USA, and I cannot,” Djokovic added.
“If I had a US passport or a green card, I would be able to play. Maybe there is a political logic behind it – not medical – but I would rather not get into that, and you can understand why.”
On court in London, top seed Djokovic cruised into the third round at Wimbledon as he overcame Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight sets, 6-1 6-4 6-2, at Centre Court on Wednesday.
Djokovic is targeting a fourth title in a row at SW19 and what would be his seventh overall at the grass court showpiece.
Victory would also cut the deficit to generational rival Rafael Nadal in terms of overall Grand Slam titles, with the Spaniard currently on a record 22 after winning both majors on offer thus far this year.
Djokovic next plays at Wimbledon against the winner of the match-up between countryman Miomir Kecmanovic and Chile’s Alejandro Tabil, who also met on Wednesday.