Novak Djokovic Withdraws from U.S. Open Over Vaccine Requirements: 'I Will Not Be Able to Travel'

The Serbian tennis star does not meet the United States vaccine requirements and will not compete in the New York City tournament

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic will defend his title at Wimbledon. Photo: Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has confirmed he will not compete in the U.S. Open due to his vaccination status.

The Serbian athlete, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, spoke out about his absence from the tournament Thursday morning on Twitter.

"Sadly, I will not be able to travel to N.Y. this time for U.S. Open," Djokovic, 35, wrote. "Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support. Good luck to my fellow players! I'll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!"

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants traveling to the country by air are required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 before flying from a foreign country to the U.S.

A July statement from U.S. Open had previously confirmed Djokovic's ineligibility to compete in the tournament. The statement explained that they would continue to abide by the U.S. government's rules of keeping unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens out of the country. Typically, the organizers said, eligible players are automatically seeded into the tournament, but they were unable to include Djokovic.

"The U.S. Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the U.S. government's position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens."

In July, Djokovic, who is currently ranked No. 6 in the world by the ATP World Tour, beat Nick Kyrgios in four sets Sunday to seal his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title victory. But the Wimbledon champion told reporters his status for the U.S. Open was still unclear, according to ESPN.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Novak Djokovic of Serbia during his match against Nick Kyrgios of Australia during their Men's Singles Final match on day fourteen of The Championships Wimbledon 2022 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic. Visionhaus/Getty

"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," 35-year-old Djokovic said, according to ESPN. "I don't know. I don't think exemption is realistically possible. If that is possibility, I don't know what [an] exemption would be about."

"I don't know," Djokovic added. "I don't have much answers there."

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This would not be the first time Djokovic is unable to compete due to his refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine. In January, Djokovic was deported from Australia because of his vaccine status and could not play in the Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tournament. Wimbledon did not make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory in order to participate in this year's tournament, enabling Djokovic to enter and eventually win. But he remains unable to play in the 2023 Australian Open since he is not eligible for a visa in the country, according to ESPN — leaving the tennis star out of the next two major tournaments.

Djokovic told reporters after winning Wimbledon on July 10 that he is "on vacation," adding that he will "definitely be resting for the next couple of weeks" after his recent tournament schedule.

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"Then I'll wait hopefully for some good news from USA because I would really love to go there," Djokovic said, according to ESPN. "That would be probably the next big tournament, the next big swing, playing a tournament or two before U.S. Open and U.S, Open. If that doesn't happen, then I have to see what the schedule will look like."

Djokovic has won 21 Grand Slam titles in his career and stands just one behind Spain's Rafael Nadal for the all-time record.

The U.S. Open begins on Aug. 29 and runs through Sept. 11 in New York City.

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