Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been refused entry into the United States after he refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Serbian former world number one has confirmed he will miss the up-coming US Open in New York which will potentially cost him coveted ATP World Tennis Tour points, pushing him further down the leadership board.
Russian-born Daniil Medvedvec is the current ATP world number one, with German player, Alexander Zverev in second and Spaniard Rafael Nadal in third.
Djokovic, who holds the world record of 373 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings is currently in sixth place.
Each player is awarded points based on how well they fair in each ATP Grand Slam or Masters tournament. Djokovic’s inability to play in many of the matches because of his vaccine status has pushed him further down the table.
“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” he Tweeted on Thursday.
“Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support. Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!”
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Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open. Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support. ❤️ Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. 💪🏼 See you soon tennis world! 👋🏼
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) August 25, 2022
The US Tennis Association said it would allow unvaccinated players to compete in its competitions, but Djokovic has been denied access into the US by the country’s current Covid border laws which require foreign nationals to have been vaccinated against the virus.
“Novak is a great champion, and it is very unfortunate that he will be unable to compete at the 2022 US Open, as he is unable to enter the country due to the federal government’s vaccination policy for non-US citizens,” said US Open director, Stacey Allaster.
According to Insider, Djokovic follows a strict vegan diet, and largely avoids meat, fish and dairy products:
“As an athlete, it became something more—the fuel that determines how I play, how I recover and how alert I am on the court,” said the 34-year-old.
“I attribute a great deal of my professional success to my diet.”
While he said he has had other vaccinations, he said of the Covid jab: “I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”
It comes after Djokovic won the coveted trophy at Wimbledon over the summer, which he was permitted to compete in after Britain completely scrapped its vaccine requirements, quarantine and Covid tests for foreign visitors.
Djokovic en 2022:
— ESPN Tenis (@ESPNtenis) August 25, 2022
The Serbian star was dubbed ‘No Vax Djokovic’ after he as controversially blocked from competing in the Australian Open as he was unable to provide the correct documentation regarding his recent Covid infection.
The decision split social media, with some suggesting that the tennis star should have been granted access into Australia despite his vaccination status while others said the same border rules should have applied to him despite his celebrity status.
While the judge initially granted him an exemption, the decision was changed as it emerged Djokovic’s agent had made an “administrative mistake” after he failed to declare the player had travelled abroad before entering Australia and had attended a tennis awards event for children when he was ordered to self-isolate:
“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment,” he said in a statement.
“My agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.”
But many have argued that now as other countries, including Australia and Britain have relaxed their vaccine mandates for travelers, it’s now time for the US to re-establish its freedoms too.