US Senator Marsha Blackburn has joined the rising chorus of voices condemning the federal administration for their refusal to allow Novak Djokovic to enter the country to play the US Open, as he's not vaccinated against COVID-19.
Djokovic, 35, is coming off a seventh triumph at Wimbledon, which was his 21st Major title - the most by any player in the Open Era after Rafael Nadal (22). However, the Serb's participation at the last Grand Slam of the year is doubtful, as US rules require non-American citizens to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the country.
The US Open recently ruled out seeking a medical exemption for any athlete. That means Djokovic is unlikely to participate at Flushing Meadows this year unless the entry rules change. Interestingly, the US recently relaxed requirements for international travelers, who're no longer mandated to provide a negative COVID-19 test on arrival in the country.
However, it does require foreign visitors to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, which Djokovic doesn't have or intends to have. Interestingly, non-vaccinated US players are allowed to compete at the US Open, which has drawn flak from many quarters.
Senator Blackburn has lambasted President Joe Biden and his Chief Medical Officer Anthony Fauci for using COVID-19 as a tool to further their agenda.
"It is absurd that Novak Djokovic is not allowed to enter the USA. No one should ever be punished for not being vaccinated, but the left has realised that if COVID is over, they will lose control over Americans' lives. That's why (Joe) Biden and (Anthony) Fauci are pushing for a foreover pandemic," Senator Blackburn tweeted.
Novak Djokovic is a three-time champion in New York, winning his third title at the tournament four years ago. He lost to Daniil Medvedev in the final last year. A year before, he got disqualified in the fourth round after unintentionally hitting a lineswoman during his match against Pablo Carreno Busta.
“I hope someone finds a way to sort this out; it’s crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage” - John McEnroe on Novak Djokovic
Four-time US Open winner John McEnroe finds it bemusing that Novak Djokovic cannot play at this year's US Open.
With the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly over and countries around the globe relaxing their entry requirements, McEnroe finds it weird that the reigning Wimbledon champion - one of the best players to grace the sport - cannot play in New York.
“I mean, we have to find a way to get Novak into the US Open,” McEnroe told Tennis 365. “How can he not be there? He has just won Wimbledon; he is a great champion, and he should be in the US Open."
While adding that he doesn't support Djokovic's non-vaccination stance, McEnroe respects the Serb's right to decide what he puts into his body.
“I don’t agree with his decision not to get vaccinated, but I respect it," said the American. "He is one of the fittest guys in the world, and everything he puts into his body, he is watching carefully. Now we are saying that because of his choice, he can’t play at the US Open. I mean, come on."
McEnroe doesn't want a repeat of Djokovic's Australian Open saga earlier this year. He has urged the authorities to find a solution to allow the 35-year-old to compete at Flushing Meadows.
"He has already been deported from Australia for the same reason, and here we are again," said McEnroe. "I hope someone finds a way to sort this out. It’s crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage.”
It remains to be seen how this saga will evolve in the next few days. The US Open starts on August 29.