New York City – Former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will miss the United States Open tennis championship after he said on Thursday that he will not be able to travel to New York, having chosen not to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Current rules require travellers to show proof of full vaccination to board flights to and enter the United States.
“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to N.Y. this time for U.S. Open,” Djokovic wrote 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.”
The Serbian previously said he was prepared to miss Grand Slam tournaments that required participating players to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Djokovic was on the entry list for the tournament that takes place from August 29 to September 11 in the “Big Apple”.
The 35-year-old was also unable to defend his Australian Open crown earlier this year after being deported from the country over his vaccination status.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) described Djokovic’s absence as “unfortunate”, but looked forward to having him back at Flushing Meadows next year.
“Novak is a great champion, and it is very unfortunate that he will be unable to compete at the 2022 U.S. Open, as he is unable to enter the country due to the federal government’s vaccination policy for non-American citizens,” said U.S. Open tournament director Stacey Allaster in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming Novak back at the 2023 U.S. Open.”
Many hoped to see Djokovic on the Flushing Meadows hard courts, where he has hoisted the trophy three times and reached the final on six other occasions.
The hashtag #LetNovakPlay has been circulating on social media as Djokovic’s fans voiced their support for a player who moved to within one of the record of 22 Grand Slam titles held by Spaniard Rafa Nadal after his Wimbledon triumph last month.
Fans had also been circulating an online petition in hopes of gaining Djokovic entry into the U.S. while four-time U.S. Open winner John McEnroe said it was “a joke” if the Serb was unable to compete due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.