Serbian tennis star and 2022 Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic will not be on the court at next month's U.S. Open in New York because he is still not vaccinated against COVID-19.
Although he was ranked seventh on the list of entries for the major championship, to be held from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, tournament organizers said Wednesday that players must be fully vaccinated to participate.
''The U.S. Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the U.S. government's position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens,'' the organization said on its website.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires foreign travelers to the United States to be fully vaccinated before getting on their flights, according to the agency.
''The only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card… to enter the United States. Or exemption,'' Djokovic told ABC News on Sunday after winning his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title. ''Based on all the information that I got, I decided not to take the vaccine.''
This will be the second consecutive year Djokovic will not play in the tournament, according to the ABC News report.
According to the report, despite being unvaccinated, U.S. player Tennys Sandgren is still allowed to be in the tournament.
''Pretty shameful that the USTA won't fight for an exemption for Novak,'' he said in a June 16 Twitter post. ''No surprise the government hasn't changed its archaic policy. I can play but he can't? Ridiculous.''
Djokovic was famously deported from Australia in January after his visa to play in the Australian Open was denied due to his not being vaccinated. The visa was reinstated and then denied yet again, forcing him out of that country.
A petition to allow his entry into the U.S. Open garnered more than 12,000 signatures, arguing that requiring vaccination is not needed at this point in the pandemic.
"There is absolutely no reason at this stage of the pandemic to not allow Djokovic to play at the U.S. Open 2022,'' CNN reported the petition as saying. ''U.S. government and USTA must work together to allow him to play. If unvaccinated American players can play, Djokovic as one of the legends of the game must be allowed to play. MAKE IT HAPPEN, USTA!"
With the future of the pandemic and the vaccination requirements around the world still in question, Djokovic may not appear in another Grand Slam event until the 2023 French Open, according to the CNN report.
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