Currently, Djokovic will be barred from entering the United States without getting vaccinated, which means he will be unable to compete in the US Open next month, just as he was kept out of the Australian Open earlier this year. There is an easy fix for Djokovic, who could get vaccinated and immediately be eligible to try for back-to-back majors. But instead of faulting Djokovic’s decision, tennis analyst John McEnroe chose to blast politicians for implementing vaccine rules during ESPN’s broadcast of the Wimbledon final on Sunday.
“These politicians are getting in the way too much,” McEnroe said regarding Djokovic’s inability to enter the United States for the US Open. “They did it in Australia. Let’s let the guy come in and play in the U.S. I mean, come on. This is ridiculous.”
John McEnroe on Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic's vaccine status hindering his ability to play more tournaments:
"These politicians are getting their way too much. They did in Australia. Let the guy come in and play in the U.S. I mean, come on. This is ridiculous." pic.twitter.com/oOj8aC6Tsr
— The Recount (@therecount) July 10, 2022
“I don’t make those decisions, I hope that someone makes the right one and allows him to play,” McEnroe added, railing against politicians as if they were a chair umpire. “Whatever you think the government should or should not do, it’s a bummer for tennis.”
Whatever you think the government should or should not do, it seems strange to blame Djokovic’s vaccine refusal on politicians.
Djokovic had his visa revoked and was deported from Australia earlier this year over his vaccination status when he attempted to compete in the Australian Open. The 35-year-old tennis superstar was similarly willing to skip Wimbledon over his vaccine status, but tournament organizers ultimately allowed unvaccinated players to compete at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
But Djokovic hasn’t changed his stance on the jab since winning Wimbledon, which means he’ll bypass future major tournaments over vaccine mandates, potentially putting his pursuit of the record for most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis on hold. While Djokovic was able to play at Wimbledon, the US Open will be a tougher task considering it’s the United States’ COVID-19 entry rules, not tennis organizers, that are standing in his way.
“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter United States or exemption,” Djokovic said after winning his seventh Wimbledon title. “I don’t think exemption is realistically possible…I think it’s just whether or not they remove this in time for me to get to the USA.”
Djokovic now has 21 career Grand Slam titles, one behind Rafael Nadal for the most in men’s tennis history. Nadal, who was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon with an injury, is vaccinated against COVID-19 and hopes to return for the US Open to potentially extend his Grand Slam lead over Djokovic.