Novak Djokovic and the burden of vaccination


The fourth Grand Slam tournament of the year, the US Open, begins at the end of August. But tennis pro Novak Djokovic will probably not be able to be there in New York. The Serb is still not vaccinated. A political issue.

Novak Djokovic is not allowed to compete at the US Open at the end of August

Not only those interested in tennis should remember it well: The sensation that Novak Djokovic caused at the beginning of the year when he tried to somehow bypass Australia's Covid regulations, at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year to participate. The then world number one had believed that he had a visa that would allow him to pursue his profession without being vaccinated. For ten days, the Serb kept the world public in suspense with his cause. Djokovic had to wait for a court verdict in a desolate deportation hotel before he left.  The Djokovic case even took on a political dimension, in which Serbia  President Aleksandar Vucic spoke up and spoke of, among other things, a “witch hunt”. reported.

Such proportions should no longer be expected at the upcoming US Open, the last Grand Slam tournament of the year. Nevertheless: Djokovic is still not vaccinated. And in this case, too, the matter is becoming more and more of a political issue. The USA has not yet granted access to people without a Covid 19 vaccination (with a few exceptions). What shouldn't make things easier for Djokovic: After his victory in Wimbledon, the tennis professional confirmed that he still had no plans to be vaccinated against the virus and was hoping for an exception. Even US President Joe Biden had it asked for permission through the media. So far without success. Just over a week ago, Djokovic announced via Twitter: “I am preparing as if I were allowed to play. While waiting to get an answer as to whether there is any leeway for me.”  

Cancellation at short notice

Djokovic is still on the entry list for the US Open, but the tournament organizers are naturally bound by the law and accept the US entry requirements regarding the corona virus. Which means that Djokovic is currently not allowed to participate. At the big US Open preparatory tournament in Montreal/Canada, the Rogers Cup (8th to 14th August), which started on Monday, the 35-year-old had to withdraw at short notice. Djokovic is also not allowed to enter Canada with his current vaccination status. The same applies to the tournament in Cincinnati/USA (14th to 21st August) – like the event in Montreal, an event in the second highest category (1000). The chance that Djokovic will win at the US Open in New York ( August 29th to September 11th) will still open, will become smaller and smaller.

Even if, according to “Sport 1”, a top politician in the country is now committed to Djokovic's concerns. “I urge the Biden administration to grant a national interest waiver to allow world-renowned tennis star Novak Djokovic and other international athletes to compete in the US Open,” Republican US Congresswoman Claudia Tenney wrote in a statement a few days ago Letter to the US President Aside from Djokovic, however, no other athletes from the top 100 are known by name who also refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 p>Djokovic's wife Jelena is currently proving that the (vaccination) topic is particularly explosive in the Djokovic household. It was only in July that the 36-year-old had a fight with the well-known US and tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg on Twitter because he had criticized Djokovic for his vaccination status. Well, after the short-term cancellation for Montreal, the wife again reacted a little thin-skinned to a question from a US tennis magazine. “Racquet” had asked why Djokovic still registered for the tournaments in North America if the applicable laws in the respective countries would prohibit entry – and accordingly a cancellation would have to take place.

Ms. Djokovic's comment: “Registration for the tournaments is automatic based on rules and ranking. So what was the logic behind your tweet now? Novak is focused on playing his best tennis. Assuming you're a tennis magazine – maybe are you concentrating on what's going to happen in the next few weeks? Do what you're supposed to do and report on tennis.” 

Novak Djokovic has now slipped to fifth place in the tennis world rankings. The tendency is further falling.