Novak Djokovic can play at US Open as vaccine mandate to end

Djokovic can play after missing out on the US Open last year and being denied entry into the country earlier this year.

Men’s tennis world number one Novak Djokovic will be able to compete at the US Open this year after the United States government announced plans to end its COVID-19 vaccination requirements for international travellers on May 11.

The White House said on Monday that the requirements will end when the coronavirus public health emergency ends next week.

Djokovic, one of the most high-profile athletes not vaccinated against COVID-19, missed the US Open in 2022 due to his vaccine status.

The 35-year-old Serb was unable to enter the country this year after unsuccessfully applying to the US government for special permission to play at the Masters tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami.

Djokovic missed last year’s Australian Open and was deported from the country due to his vaccine status and has said he would skip grand slams rather than have a COVID shot.

However, with ease of restrictions by the Australian government later in 2022, the Serb took part in and won the 2023 edition of the tournament in Melbourne to equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 men’s grand slam titles.

While Djokovic has refused to explicitly say whether he received any shots to protect against the coronavirus, he would not have needed an exemption to enter Australia in 2022 if he were fully vaccinated.

In April 2020, he issued a statement saying: “Personally I am opposed to the vaccination against COVID-19 in order to be able to travel. But if it becomes compulsory, I will have to make a decision whether to do it or not.”

Months later, he and his wife tested positive for the illness caused by the coronavirus after a series of exhibition matches he organised without social distancing or masking.

In January 2022, Djokovic knew he had tested positive for COVID-19 when he attended a newspaper interview and photoshoot at his tennis centre in Serbia, admitting he made an “error of judgement” and should have immediately gone into isolation.

Djokovic has won three of his 22 major titles at the US Open.

This year’s tournament will be held from August 28 to September 10.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies