Novak Djokovic out of US Open as Covid vaccine rules remain in place

Djokovic had hoped for a change in the rules ahead of the tournament but will now miss his second grand slam of the season

Jamie Braidwood
Thursday 25 August 2022 19:45 BST
Novak Djokovic wins seventh Wimbledon title after beating Nick Kyrgios in final
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Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he will not play in the US Open this month after being unable to enter the country and travel to New York because of Covid-19 vaccine rules.

Djokovic waited until just hours before the US Open draw before announcing his withdrawal from the tournament, in the hope that the US government’s rules requiring non-citizens to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus to enter the country would be lifted in time for him to compete.

But with the border regulations still in place and Djokovic remaining opposed to receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, the Wimbledon champion will miss his second grand slam tournament of the season after being deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Open at the start of the year.

“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to New York this time for the US Open,” Djokovic posted 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.”

Tournament organisers at the US Open made their position clear last month with a statement confirming it would respect the US government’s rules. “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,” a statement said on 20 July.

Djokovic won his 21st grand slam title last month after defeating Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final, but has not played since. The 35-year-old missed tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati after saying he would be waiting for “good news” regarding the Covid-19 vaccine rules in the United States, with that stance not changing despite the US Open announcing their plans.

Speaking after winning his seventh Wimbledon title, Djokovic said: “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 the United States, or an exemption.

Djokovic is a three-time US Open champion
Djokovic is a three-time US Open champion (Getty Images)

“I don’t know. I don’t think exemption is realistically possible. If that is possibility, I don’t know what an exemption would be about. I don’t know. I don’t have much answers there. I think it’s just whether or not they remove this in time for me to get to USA.”

In January, Djokovic controversially announced he would be travelling to Australia after receiving an exemption for the Covid vaccine that would allow him to play in the first grand slam of the season. After a public backlash, Djokovic was detained by border patrol upon arrival and later deported from Australia before the tournament.

The former World No 1 was able to play in the French Open and Wimbledon tournaments as Covid rules across Europe relaxed ahead of the summer, but the United States has not changed its rules on unvaccinated foreigners entering the country.

Djokovic is a three-time US Open champion, with his last victory at Flushing Meadows coming in 2018. Since then, Djokovic was defaulted for hitting a line judge in 2020 and he was beaten by Daniil Medvedev in last season’s final, ending his hopes of achieving a calendar grand slam.

It remains unclear whether Djokovic will be allowed to enter Australia ahead of the Australian Open in January. Deportation from the country normally comes with a three-year ban which, if upheld, means Djokovic may have to wait until the French Open next June for his next chance at entering a grand slam.

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