Novak Djokovic confirms he will not play at US Open amid Covid travel row

Novak Djokovic Belgrade Serbia

Novak Djokovic has failed in his bid to play in the US Open after American authorities refused to relax their hardline stance on unvaccinated foreigners entering the country.

Under current entry rules for foreign travellers, full vaccination from Covid is required but Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, was hopeful of a U-turn from US officials.

But just hours before the draw is due to be made for the tournament, Djokovic announced on Twitter that he will not be able to travel to New York.

Djokovic wrote: “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!”

The US Open will be the second grand slam of the year that Djokovic will miss due to his vaccination status.

In January, Djokovic caused an international incident at the Australian Open when he entered the country believing he had an exemption to strict rules around unvaccinated travellers – only to face deportation when it was withdrawn.

The Serbian, who had recently recovered from coronavirus, was branded a public health risk by local officials due to his public stance rejecting the vaccination.

Speaking earlier this week, four-time US Open winner John McEnroe said it would be “a joke” if Djokovic was unable to compete.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” McEnroe said “I think it’s a joke. I would have had the vaccine and gone and played but he’s got very strong beliefs and you have to respect that.

“At this point, in the pandemic, we’re two-and-a-half years in, I think people in all parts of the world know more about it, and the idea that he can’t travel here to play, to me is a joke.”

Djokovic’s absence means Rafael Nadal has an opportunity to stretch his lead in the grand slam title race. Nadal has 22 major trophies with Djokovic on 21 after winning Wimbledon in July.