The US Open, one of the four most prestigious tennis tournaments in the tennis world, included Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic on its official men’s singles entry list on Wednesday – with a warning that if he doesn’t did not participate, it would be due to Chinese policies of vaccination against the coronavirus under the leadership of the left. President Joe Biden.
Serbian Djokovic – who has won more Grand Slam tennis tournaments than any other player in history except Spaniard Rafael Nadal – has refused a vaccination against the Chinese coronavirus and has publicly stated that pressure from foreign governments to ingest a pharmaceutical would not convince him to get the shot, although he remains “open” to the possibility. Djokovic is among the small number of players on the professional tennis circuit who have not received any doses of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine or vaccine candidate.
Djokovic’s vaccination status became an international scandal in January after Australia granted him a legal visa to enter the country – with an exemption from the vaccine requirement – then abruptly imprisoned him in a detention center for migrants after pro-vaccine protesters condemned the government for allowing him entry. Canberra eventually deported him – despite larger pro-Djokovic protests outside the prison that housed him – on the grounds that his presence in the country would ‘excite anti-vaccine sentiment’, paving the way for Nadal to win the Australian Open. Australian officials admitted he had entered the country on a legal visa, but blamed a “computer” for giving it to him.
The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) dictates that non-US citizens are not allowed to enter the country if they are not vaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus, unless they fall into one of the rare exemptions, none of which seem to match Djokovic. He said after his Wimbledon victory that he did not expect to be allowed to enter America or play at the US Open, which he has won three times.
Djokovic appeared seventh on the US Open entry list, the same ranking he maintains on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour. Rankings are affected by the number of tournaments a player takes part in, so Djokovic is significantly deflated by his vaccination status keeping him out of several major tournament hosting countries.
The tournament issued a statement distancing itself from any player’s potential absence from the US Open due to their vaccination status, blaming it on the federal government.
“The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens,” tournament organizers said.
According to the CDC, “currently, all non-citizen, non-immigrant air passengers traveling to the United States, regardless of antibody status, are required to provide proof of [Chinese coronavirus] vaccination.”
“If you are not fully vaccinated against [Chinese coronavirus], you will NOT be permitted to board a flight to the United States unless you meet the criteria for exception under the CDC Proclamation and Amended Order. A booster dose is not necessary to meet this requirement,” the agency points out on its website.
The CDC lists several exceptions to this rule, none of which seem to apply to Djokovic. For example, someone can be granted an exemption on the grounds that they are a citizen of a country where coronavirus vaccines are not available, which is not a problem for the Serbian national. The US government can also grant exemptions for “humanitarian” reasons – for example, Afghan refugees desperately fleeing execution under the Taliban – or with proper documentation of “medical contraindications”.
“Persons whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)”, are also eligible, although such persons – Antony Blinken, Peter Buttigieg and Alejandro Mayorkas, respectively – have not commented on Djokovic and have no apparent reason to grant him a bye.
The vaccine requirement as currently implemented for entry into the United States for non-immigrant foreign nationals was implemented under Biden in April 2022.
Djokovic has already missed two important tournaments this year in America, the Indian Wells tournament and the Miami Open, due to restrictions from the Biden administration, ESPN observed on Wednesday.
Australia had a similar system in place in January when it allowed Djokovic into the country, only to imprison and deport him despite having a valid visa. Djokovic is said to have requested a medical exemption from the requirement on the grounds that he had recently tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus. The Australian Open, like the US Open, placed him on the official entry list. Unlike the US Open, however, the Australian Open used Djokovic’s expected presence for publicity purposes.
Defending champion Djokovic will play for an incredible 10th Australian Open trophy – and a men’s record 21st major singles title – and will be the favorite in a draw that will feature 49 of the world’s top 50 , including world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who beat top-ranked Djokovic in this year’s US Open final,” reads a December 2021 press release from the tournament.
Medvedev is currently the highest ranked player in the ATP. He was not allowed to compete at Wimbledon on the grounds that he is a Russian citizen; Russians and Belarusians were banned from the tournament in protest at Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – a move the All England Club did not make in the other seven years of the eight-year invasion.
Following his victory at Wimbledon this month, Djokovic told reporters he would not be vaccinated just to play at the US Open, which is usually held in Queens, New York, over the past week. August and the first week of September.
“I’m not vaccinated and don’t plan on getting vaccinated so the only good news I can have is they’re removing the mandatory green vaccine card or whatever you call it to get in in the United States or an exemption,” Djokovic said after winning his seventh Wibledon. “I don’t know. I don’t think exemption is actually possible. If it is a possibility, I don’t know what it would be.
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