US Open: Djokovic can’t play unless vaxxed…

The verdict is in, and the U.S. Open tennis tournament has confirmed that Novak Djokovic will not be allowed to play unless he is fully vaccinated against Covid.

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The U.S. Open has confirmed that Novak Djokovic will not be able to play in the tournament next month unless he is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

 

In a statement released Wednesday, the U.S. Open said that while it does not have its own vaccination mandate in place for players, it will respect the U.S. government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens.

 

The U.S. requires non-citizens to be fully vaccinated against Covid in order to entry the country. As a result, Djokovic, who has repeatedly expressed that he will not take the vaccine, would not be allowed entry into the country.

 

That would effectively rule the Wimbledon champion out for the tournament, which begins on August 29

 

The U.S. Open, along with the French Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon, are known as “Grand Slam” tournaments and are known as the most prestigious and important tournaments in professional tennis. Djokovic has had similar difficulties with the Australian Open. Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open nine times and holds the world record for most Australian Open titles, arrived in Australia for 2022 to defend his championship title from the previous year and was apprehended at the Melbourne airport. Australian officials ultimately cancelled Djokovic’s visa on “public interest grounds”, ruling that his exception to Australia’s Covid vaccine requirement for visitors was invalid. As a consequence, Djokovic was not allowed to play in the Australian Open tournament.

 

Djokovic’s exclusion from yet another Grand Slam tournament as a result of his principled objection to vaccine requirements could very well have a profound impact on tennis history. Novak Djokovic, along with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, is one of the so-called “Big Three” who have dominated men’s tennis for over a decade. With his Wimbledon victory last month, Djokovic secured his 21st Grand Slam, surpassing tennis legend Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles. Spanish tennis phenom Nadal, who won the Australian Open that Djokovic was excluded from, boasts the world record of 22 grand slam victories, one more than Djokovic. The question of who among the big three will achieve the most Grand Slam titles is now forever complicated by Djokovic’s exclusion from two (so far) Grand Slam tournaments on account of his principled objection to vaccine requirements.

 

When asked about this in an interview, Djokovic stood firm, noting that his bodily autonomy is far more important than any title:

 

 

The notion that Djokovic, who is one of the best conditioned athletes in the world, needs a Covid vaccine for health reasons is ludicrous. The decision to exclude him in Australia and now in the United States is nakedly political. The encroachment of politics into the tennis world is not unique to the Covid issue. Astonishingly, this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament excluded all Russian nationals from playing (including number one ranked Daniil Medvedev) as a gesture of political protest against the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

 

The American tennis legend John McEnroe criticized the refusal by American political authorities to grand an exemption to the Covid vaccine requirement which would allow Djokovic to play

 

“These politicians are getting in the way too much… They did it in Australia. Let’s let the guy come in and play in the U.S. I mean come on. This is ridiculous. But I don’t make those decisions. I hope someone makes the right one and allows him to play. That’s my personal opinion.

 

According to the CDC website, exemptions can be granted for the following reasons:

 

The last bullet-point underscores how the decision is squarely in the Biden Administration’s hands. Will Blinken, Buttigieg, or Mayorkas do the right thing and spare the United States the national embarrassment and disgrace of excluding Djokovic from America’s most prestigious tennis tournament?

 

Perhaps the fact that multiple vaxxed and boosted President of the United States just contracted Covid might induce a little bit of humility about the vaccines — at least some humility when it comes to making extremely intimate health decisions for one of the most physically conditioned athletes in the world?

 

 

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