Novak Djokovic said he still hopes to be allowed to play in the US Open when it begins in late August, despite not having been vaccinated against Covid-19.
The unvaccinated tennis star was expelled from Australia ahead of the Melbourne Slam again in January after the government decided he had breached strict Covid-19 regulations and failed in a legal challenge.
The 35-year-old may face a repeat at Flushing Meadows but insists he is gearing up to play at the US Open in late August.
Current rules require non-US citizens to show proof of complete vaccination before entering the country by air from a foreign country. He will need an exemption to play.
Djokovic said on social media on Saturday that he would be ready to go if approved. The Serb’s name appears on the entry list for the US Open, which will take place from August 29 to September 11 in New York.
“I am preparing as if he will allow me to compete, while I wait to see if there is any place for me to fly to the United States,” Djokovic wrote.
The Serbian proved that he was preparing a video he posted on Instagram of him training.
Fans showed their support for the tennis star on social media earlier this week using #LetNovaPlay.
Novak Djokovic said he still hopes to be allowed to play in the US Open in August
The Serbian shared a video of him training on Instagram where he thanked fans for their support
Supporters thanked Djokovic for being a role model and praised him for his commitment to his principles.
One of them posted: “With the failure of politicians and personalities in the world, our children look to examples like you in sports.. Your principles, what you stand for, and what you sacrifice make you the hero in all this charade.. Thank you.”
Another wrote: “People will remember him more than the sport he mastered. His actions in defense of freedom of choice will go down in history.
Another claimed that the world would wait for the decision, claiming that the country would become a funny stick if the United States refused Djokovic’s entry.
The tennis star is not immune to Covid-19 and will need an exemption to enter the US
Fans shared their support for the 21-time Grand Slam winner on social media this week
They said: “The whole world will be watching to see if the United States denies that one of the healthiest athletes of all time is playing the global and mandatory #LetNovaPlayusopen game.
They will become an even bigger laughing stock if they deprive him of it; MustafaHosny Oh God, Amen Lord
Meanwhile, one fan wrote: “Not only are you one of the best players ever, you have shown that you are a human being who thinks his decisions should be, just that.
“The facts are coming out thick and fast. Every day that passes. It proves that you made the right 100 choices. Well done, sir.”
Another insisted that Djokovic had given the sport many entertaining moments and that the fans should repay him for their support.
They shared: “You have given us so many joys, sweet sensations, and satisfaction, and the least we can do for you is to wish you the best. And thank you for your words… idemo Nole.
One fan insisted that Djokovic had given the sport many entertaining moments
As of Saturday morning, nearly 45,000 people have signed a petition to be allowed to play
As of Saturday morning, nearly 45,000 people had signed a Change.org petition asking the US Tennis Association and the federal government to reach an agreement to allow Djokovic, a 21-time Grand Slam winner, to play.
The USTA has said it will abide by federal rules and will not seek an exemption for any player – even a three-time champion like Djokovic (2011, 2015, 2018).
He also thanked fans for their support, which undoubtedly includes their participation in a petition campaign.
He wrote to fans, “I just wanted to take a moment and tell you all how grateful I am to see so many messages of support and love from all over the world these days.”
The 35-year-old said he felt “special” that fans wished him to be in the tournament
“It is so special that people relate to my tennis career in a loving and supportive way and wish me to continue to compete.”
Djokovic was not allowed to play at the Australian Open in January due to his refusal to vaccinate. He lost to rival Rafael Nadal in the French Open quarter-finals in May, then defeated Nick Kyrgios to win Wimbledon in July.
European media reported this week that the Serbian-American Voting Alliance sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to intervene to allow Djokovic to play.