Novak Djokovic's chances of getting a National Interest Exemption to participate in the 2022 US Open did not come to fruition as the Serbian tennis great is now confirmed to miss the tournament. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) recently revealed that they had no power to apply for an exemption for Djokovic, drawing a sarcastic reaction from American tennis player Tennys Sandgren.
The USTA, organizers of the US Open, stated that they were in constant contact with various government authorities regarding an exemption application. However, they were informed that the government is no longer accepting third-party applications for a National Interest Exemption.
"In all instances, we were informed that the US Government was no longer considering third party applications for National Interest Exemptions," the USTA revealed, according to Tennis Majors.
“Only NIE’s submitted by the individual seeking the NIE would be reviewed by the appropriate department or authorities regarding entrance of unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens," the statement further said.
Reacting to the same, Sandgren opined that the USTA could have revealed this information months ago.
"They could’ve said this months ago lol. I wonder why they didn’t," Sandgren wrote in a tweet.
Sandgren has time and again expressed his support for Djokovic throughout the controversial build-up to the 2022 US Open. Like the Serbian player, Sandgren is unvaccinated, but he can participate in the tournament as he is an American citizen, thus rendering the vaccine mandate for travel inapplicable in his case. Also, the tournament's rules do not require double vaccination as a participation criterion.
Meanwhile, the revised rule by which the authorities do not accept third-party applications for an individual's National Interest Exemption came into effect in late 2021. The said rules were not in place for the 2020 and 2021 editions of the US Open, both of which were held amidst the coronavirus pandemic. There is still no information on whether or not Djokovic applied for an exemption to enter the United States.
“They didn’t try to get an exemption" - Tennys Sandgren on the Novak Djokovic-US Open issue
The USTA's clarification came soon after Tennys Sandgren had criticized the US Open organizers for not trying hard to get an exemption for Novak Djokovic's entry into the country for participation in the 2022 US Open.
In an interview with L'Equipe, Sandgren stated that while the USTA did everything in their power to successfully hold the last two editions of the US Open, they did not try enough when it came to the Serbian superstar.
“We didn’t really try," Sandgren said. "They didn’t try to get an exemption for Novak. For the past two years, they’ve done everything they could to make the tournament happen."
"They fought hard to make it happen. But now, for Novak, their speech is: “We have to apply what the government tells us, we can’t do anything. It’s not coherent," the 427th-ranked player in the ATP rankings added further.
Sandgren admitted that no player is bigger than the tournament itself, but he wanted to see a bigger effort in favor of Djokovic.
“I know that a player is not more important than a tournament, but it was worth a try, wasn’t it? The US Open has been fighting for two years to get exemptions," he expressed.
The USTA then clarified its stance, revealing that it had no say in the matter as the government itself was not accepting any applications for exemptions.
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