World No. 3 Novak Djokovic could well be playing his final Grand Slam of the season at the ongoing 2022 Wimbledon Championships. The 20-time Grand Slam champion is having one of his most difficult seasons this year and it has nothing to do with his fitness as his personal decision of remaining unvaccinated against Covid-19 has seen him being denied permission to enter countries where the State demands compulsory vaccination of any foreigner wishing to enter.
He was first denied in Australia which led to him being deported a few hours prior to his first-round match in the 2022 Australian Open. During the hardcourt season, he was not allowed in the USA to compete in Indian Wells and Miami. While he had a full claycourt season, in the coming months, when the Tour shifts its focus to the USA once again for the US Open leg, Novak is set to remain absent for those weeks as the latest vaccination policy of the USA will see Djokovic miss the 2022 US Open as well.
“Even if I get in, they would see me on TV playing tennis and pick me up”: Novak Djokovic
The US Open as such has not made any comments regarding the vaccination situation as unvaccinated American players such as Tennys Sandgren can actually play. Sandgren himself had questioned the policy of his own country as he felt it was clear discrimination. Novak has however made it clear that he wants to avoid the drama that happened in Australia where he believes he was treated poorly as he had the medical exemption and was allowed to board the flight but was then denied entry by immigration.
“No unvaccinated people can enter the USA as of this moment. I did hear unofficially that some people got away with it, some people who are not ‘famous’, but | would never even try to go to the USA if it is not allowed. Some people think that I made that mistake in Australia, but it was the contrary in fact – I had the exemption etc, let’s not go over the same story again. The bottom line is: if I am told that I cannot go, I won’t go, I would never put myself in such a position. Even if I get in, they would see me on TV playing tennis and pick me up!
“On a more serious note, I have been texting with Tennys Sandgren a few days ago. I wanted to thank him for the public support he has given me in this situation. What he said makes total sense – if unvaccinated players are not allowed to compete at the US Open, then it should be the case for everyone. I don’t see the medical logic behind it, that Tennys can play because he is a citizen of the USA, and I cannot. If I had a US passport or a green card, I would be able to play.
“Maybe there is a political logic behind it – not medical – but I would rather not get into that and you can understand why. Grand Slams are tournaments that are my priority at this stage of my career and of course, I want to play in New York. On the other hand, if I do not get a chance to do so, it is not the end of the world, we will look ahead. But right now, I am completely focused on Wimbledon,” said Novak as reported by Serbian journalist Sasa Ozmo.
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