An online petition calling on the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the US government to allow Novak Djokovic to compete in the US Open has garnered thousands of signatures, with the petition’s author claiming there is no basis to exclude the 21-time grand slam champion.
The recent Wimbledon champion is not permitted to enter the US given the nation’s current regulations that require non-citizens to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The change.org petition titled, Allow Djokovic to play in US Open 2022, has already amassed over 30,000 signatures and claims “there is absolutely no reason at this stage of the pandemic to not allow Djokovic to play at the US Open 2022”.
“US 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!,” the petition said.
Djokovic’s stance on vaccines and his refusal to follow vaccine mandates has marred his recent on-court achievements, recently causing him to forfeit his spot at the 2022 Australian Open after his Australian visa was cancelled.
Djokovic’s visa was cancelled after arriving at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport at around 11:30 pm on Wednesday, January 5. Following a court battle on January 10, the tennis star won his battle to stay in Australia and had his visa cancellation overturned. Judge Anthony Kelly ordered the visa cancellation to be overturned claiming it “was unreasonable.”
Following the court’s decision, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time. Hawke said he was cancelling Djokovic’s visa, “on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.
“Today I exercised my power to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds,” he said in a statement.
Djokovic was spotted leaving Australia at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport at 10:30pm on Sunday, January 16 flanked by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers as he boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai.
Novak Djokovic leaves the Marhaba lounge at Melbourne Airport for flight back to Europe. pic.twitter.com/Rg2D1XTTwW
— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) January 16, 2022
In an exclusive interview with the BBC in February 2022, the tennis champion seemingly doubled down on his stance claiming that missing major competitions, such as the French Open and Wimbledon, over his jab status, is “the price that [he is] willing to pay.”
“The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else,” he said.
Despite his vaccine objections and the roadblocks it has caused for his competitive career, Djokovic recently secured his Wimbledon men’s final win at Centre Court on Sunday, July 10.
In the highly anticipated final showdown between himself and Nick Kyrgios, Djokovic recorded a 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6(3) victory over Kyrgios at the All England Club. Sunday’s win continues Djokovic’s winning streak at the club to 28 matches, with his recent victory marking the first time he was won four consecutive titles at the tournament.
A humbled Djokovic struggled to find the words to convey what winning the Wimbledon finals meant to him and those closest to him.
“I’ve lost words for what this tournament, what this trophy means to me, to my team, to my family. I have said this many times,” he said.