"I would like to see Americans reject a repeat of the fiasco for the US Open but am not holding my breath" - Former UN Assistant Secretary-General Ramesh Thakur on why Novak Djokovic should play in New York

Former UN Assistant Secretary-General Ramesh Thakur defends Novak Djokovic
Former UN Assistant Secretary-General Ramesh Thakur defends Novak Djokovic

The debate around Novak Djokovic's US Open participation continues to gather pace. Among those vouching for the 21-time Grand Slam champion is Ramesh Thakur, a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, who strongly hopes that the saga involving Djokovic in Australia will not be repeated ahead of Flushing Meadows as well.

As things stand at the moment, the Serbian superstar will not be able to play in the Grand Slam event, as per US government regulations banning unvaccinated travelers from entering the country. The 36-year-old has repeatedly iterated his strong stance against getting vaccinated, thereby extinguishing the only hope he has of legally making his way into the United States.

Djokovic's fans and supporters wait with bated breath, hoping for a reversal of the regulations that ban the Serb from playing at the US Open, as that is the only way he can participate. Speaking on the same, Thakur slammed the incident in Melbourne in January which resulted in the Serb's deportation, before urging the US authorities to avoid the same.

"I would like to see Americans reject a repeat of the fiasco for the US Open but am not holding my breath," Thakur said in a column originally written for The Brownstone Institute. "The capacity of authorities and governments to stubbornly - even cussedly - ignore facts, data and evidence throughout the pandemic has been awe-inspiring."
USTA: The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the U.S. government's position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens.

Thakur believes Djokovic's deportation from Australia was "petty" and "vindictive," going as far as to say that it was "medical tyranny." He further stated that the "totalitarian" rule of compulsory vaccination to enter a country defies the principles of "my body, my choice."

"Djokovic’s deportation was petty, vindictive and an example of medical tyranny. It undermined Australians’ self-identity as free-spirited larrikins," Thakur said, adding, "More than authoritarian, it was totalitarian, in that it injected the state into the body of an individual in total repudiation of the principles of informed consent and “My body, my choice.”

The Serb was eventually deported from Australia at ministerial discretion, suggesting that while he posed a "negligible risk" of transmitting the virus to others, his anti-vaccination stance could lead to a similar attitude among many people in Australia.

NEW - Tennis star Novak Djokovic reaffirms COVID vaccine stance after winning Wimbledon, hopes for an exemption from the mandates for the US Open.

Thakur, who is the Director of the Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the Australian National University, opined that there was more to the decision than just that. He believes that the possibility of an unvaccinated athlete winning a Grand Slam tournament in Australia would have shattered public support for vaccines.

"Djokovic had to be kept out of Australia not because he could infect others but because he is a visible reminder of vaccine failure," continued Thakur.
"The government was terrified that a twice-infected but unvaccinated Djokovic, showcasing his athletic prowess on the court to a record 21st Majors triumph, would bring to a shuddering halt the constantly escalating COVID terror," he added.

The former UN executive believes there was a lack of effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines in preventing transmission of the Omicron variant of the virus, which was the dominant strain worldwide at the time of the Australian Open. He stressed the same and declared that the saga in Australia involving the 21-time Grand Slam champion was unnecessary.

"Possibly the healthiest human being on the planet" - Ramesh Thakur on Novak Djokovic

Day Fourteen: The Championships - Wimbledon 2022
Day Fourteen: The Championships - Wimbledon 2022

Ramesh Thakur went on to completely disregard the notion that Novak Djokovic poses a health risk to others by not being vaccinated himself. He considers the Serbian tennis great as "possibly the healthiest human being on the planet" and believes he is one of the best athletes of all time across sports.

"The claim that “No-vax” Djokovic poses a threat to others’ health is risible."
"Among the best tennis players of all time, one of the greatest contemporary athletes across all sporting codes and also possibly the healthiest human being on the planet who is obsessive-compulsive about his fitness, Djokovic was unable to play in the Australian Open because he refused to take a COVID vaccine," said Thakur.

He then expressed his dissatisfaction at the 35-year-old Serb being barred from entering the United States to compete in the US Open, while unvaccinated American players face no such restrictions and can freely compete.

"That would be unfortunate. The vaccination mandate for international arrivals made little sense back in January and is now demonstrably reliant on voodoo science," he further said on the same.
"I don't see the medical logic behind it. That Tennys can play because he is a citizen of the USA and I cannot."-Novak Djokovic on vaccine requirements in the U.S.#TheBreakTC | #Wimbledon

The 21-time Major champion most recently confirmed his anti-vaccine stance after winning the 2022 Wimbledon Championships, saying that he would never get the jab.

As things stand, he is also not allowed to compete at the National Bank Open in Toronto, which begins on August 5, and is missing from the entry list for the tournament as well. Earlier this year, the ATP confirmed that the Serb was one of only three players inside the Top-100 to remain unvaccinated, making his decision all the more perplexing.

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Edited by Shyam Kamal
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