Petition demands that Djokovic be allowed into US
An online petition is calling for Novak Djokovic to be allowed to play at the US Open later this year. As things stand, the unvaccinated tennis star will miss the tournament because he will not be granted entry into the country.
The campaign set up at Change.org, titled ‘Allow Djokovic to play in US Open 2022’, has a relatively modest current target of 15,000 signatures but is well on course to meet that aim with around 12,000 supporters as of Wednesday.
“There is absolutely no reason at this stage of the pandemic to not allow Djokovic to play at the US Open 2022,” reads the accompanying text from user Padma Rajan.
“US Government and USTA [US Tennis Association] 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!”
Djokovic, 35, insisted after his victory at Wimbledon earlier this month that he still has no plans to get vaccinated against Covid-19. American rules currently prevent unvaccinated foreigners from entering.
“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter United States or exemption,” said Djokovic.
The US Open, which is the final Grand Slam of the season, gets underway on August 29. Djokovic is a three-time winner of the tournament and was a beaten finalist last year when he lost to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.
Fans online are not the only ones demanding that Djokovic be allowed to play. American tennis icon John McEnroe accused politicians of “getting in the way too much” as he launched an on-air rant following Djokovic’s title win at Wimbledon.
“They did it in Australia. Let’s let the guy come in and play in the US. I mean, come on. This is ridiculous,” McEnroe said on ESPN.
McEnroe, 63, added that “whatever you think the government should or should not do, it’s a bummer for tennis” that Djokovic is set to miss out.
Unvaccinated star Tennys Sandgren has also said it is absurd that as an American he is set to play, while Djokovic won’t simply because he is a foreigner.
Even former US National Intelligence official Richard Grenell has chimed in online, tweeting this week: “Let [Djokovic] play in the [US Open]! The US Open cheapens itself when it bans one of the best players in the world.”
Djokovic was infamously denied participation at the opening Grand Slam of the year in Australia when he was deported from the country in a row over his vaccine status.
He was free to compete at the French Open, bowing out in the quarterfinals to eventual winner Rafael Nadal, but went on to claim a 21st Grand Slam title of his career with victory at Wimbledon – moving him just one behind Nadal in the all-time stakes.
Wimbledon could be Djokovic’s last Grand Slam until the French Open next May, however.
With Djokovic set to miss the US Open, there is also uncertainty over his participation in Melbourne in January. Deportation from Australia typically carries a three-year re-entry ban, although there are suggestions that the government could step in to help.
Djokovic has said he is willing to forego the chance to win titles rather than relent to pressure to get jabbed against Covid-19.
“That is the price that I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic said back in February.
“The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.
“I was never against vaccination. I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus.”