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In 2021, Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia over his stance against the COVID vaccine. This year, he won the entire tournament.
What a difference a year makes…
Now, don’t think for a second that means we’ll see Djokovic stateside later this year. At least not as it currently stands. He was persona non grata at last year’s tournament because his unvaccinated status ran afoul of federal regulations for people coming into the country.
It still does, which means he could be absent from the U.S. Open in 2023 too.
Well, unless he takes a bit of a detour to get to Queens for the tournament.
The United States still won’t let @DjokerNole into the country because he refuses to take the worthless covid shot. Well, unless he goes to the Southern border and just walks across.— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) January 29, 2023
Djookovic’s trek to a record 10th Australian Open victory came with some delicious irony. At one point, he was up against Aussie Alex de Minaur. In 2022, de Minaur was in a press conference when news broke that Djokovic had been deported. When he heard he laughed.
Let’s assume he’s not laughing anymore; not after Djokovic made short work of him.
Djokovic Will Likely Miss Two Upcoming US Tournaments
What’s also interesting is that Djokovic was able to compete in Australia — a nation that once had some of the most draconian COVID restrictions (see deporting a world-class athlete for not getting a vaccine that didn’t work). That said, he’s still likely to miss a pair of major tournaments here in the United States.
Earlier this month, the federal government extended its ban on unvaccinated non-US nationals entering (unless, as we’ve established, it’s done in a “less legal” way) through April 10, 2023.
That means that Djokovic will be unable to make it to both Indian Wells and the Miami Open which begin on March 6 and 20 respectively. While there is a chance Djokovic could try to get an exception, it doesn’t seem like the government would be happy to let the Serbian slide.
Djokovic being unable to compete in tournaments is obviously bad for the sport of tennis. However, his absence also highlights the ridiculous restrictions still in place for those who chose not to get vaccinated.
It’s wild that with as much info as we have about the ineffectiveness of COVID vaccines, people who are trying to legally travel to the United States — including high-profile athletes — are hitting roadblocks.
We’ll have to wait and see if those restrictions have fallen by the wayside once the U.S. Open rolls around in late August.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle