US Open clarifies stance after Djokovic named on entry list


The unvaccinated Serb was included on the list for Flushing Meadows but appears unlikely to play

US Open organizers have indicated they will not make special efforts for unvaccinated foreign stars to appear at this year’s tournament, despite Novak Djokovic appearing on the entry list released this week.

Djokovic was named among the eligible players for the Grand Slam, which gets underway on August 29, but because he is unvaccinated against Covid-19 the Serb will not be allowed entry into the country.

“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,” a statement from the US Open clarified.

“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 repeated after his Wimbledon triumph earlier this month that he is not planning to get jabbed against Covid-19.

“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 the 21-time Grand Slam champion.

The US Open’s position means that unvaccinated American players such as men’s ace Tennys Sandgren will be able to feature, while foreign stars such as Djokovic who have not had the jab are effectively barred because they cannot enter the US.

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Sandgren has been among those to criticize the situation, calling it “shameful” that US tennis bosses would not “fight for an exemption for Novak.”

US tennis icon John McEnroe also weighed in after Wimbledon, accusing politicians of “getting in the way too much.”

“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.

Djokovic was deported from Australia in January ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year in a row over his vaccine status.

The 35-year-old was allowed to play at the French Open and Wimbledon, but will miss the closing major of the season at Flushing Meadows.

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His 2023 Australian Open participation also appears in doubt as the country typically bars anyone who has been deported from re-entering for a period of three years. There have been suggestions, however, that the Australian government could intervene.

In addition to the US Open – where he is a three-time champion – Djokovic will be forced to miss other American events such as the Western & Southern Open, also known as the Cincinnati Masters, which is held in the build-up to Flushing Meadows.

Speaking back in February, Djokovic said missing out on titles was a “price I am willing to pay,” rather than relenting and getting vaccinated.

Russian world number one Daniil Medvedev will be the defending men’s champion at the US Open, having beaten Djokovic in three sets in last year’s final.

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