By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, July 10, 2022
Seven-time Wimbledon Novak Djokovic would be on the outside looking in if the US Open started this week.
Hall of Famer John McEnroe asserts the U.S. government should permit Djokovic entry to play next month’s US Open.
The 35-year-old Serbian, who was booted out of Australia in January and denied the chance to defend his Australian Open title, remains unvaccinated and would not be allowed entry into the United States under current COVID-19 restrictions.
McEnroe says politics and sports shouldn’t mix and authorities should let Djokovic play the US Open.
“These politicians are getting in the way too much,” McEnroe said during ESPN’s Wimbledon final broadcast. “They did it in Australia. Let’s let the guy come in and play in the U.S. I mean, come on. This is ridiculous.”
Former world No. 1 McEnroe called Australia’s handling of Djokovic’s case “a debacle” and said it impacted Djokovic mentally in the months that followed.
“I believe the whole deportation thing was horrible for him, but it was terribly handled,” McEnroe said. “I can’t imagine it didn’t affect him. Maybe it still is affecting him to some degree.
“Obviously I believe it just mentally made it more difficult to focus on what he needed to do to keep at his highest level in terms of training, the intensity and toughness he brings mentally.”
After conquering Nick Kyrgios in four sets to collect his fourth consecutive Wimbledon crown and seventh title overall, Djokovic said he has no plans to get vaccinated.
“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the vaccine card to enter United States,” Djokovic said. “I don’t know. I don’t think exemption is realistically possible. If that is possibility, I don’t know what exemption would be about. I don’t know. I don’t have much answers there.”
If U.S. authorities ease regulations mandating mandatory vaccination for foreign travelers that could clear a path for Djokovic to play Flushing Meadows though he says he’s not counting on it.
“I think it’s just whether or not they remove this in time for me to get to USA,” Djokovic said. “I’ll wait hopefully for some good news from USA because I would really love to go there.
“That would be probably the next big tournament, the next big swing, playing a tournament or two before US Open and US Open. If that doesn’t happen, then I have to see what the schedule will look like.”
Photo credit: Christopher Levy