Hostile reaction after fresh appeal for Novak Djokovic to enter America
The campaign to allow Novak Djokovic to enter the United States to play in the Indian Wells and Miami ATP 1000 events has been given a high profile boost, but the reaction to the intervention has been negative.
US Open chiefs have joined tournament organisers at Indian Wells and Miami by making a public call for Djokovic to be allowed to play in this month’s tournaments.
This is despite US government policy blocking all foreign travellers who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 from entering the country.
Djokovic has made his position clear on Covid-19 vaccination and missed several tournaments last year after he opted against taking the jab.
Now his misery is set to continue, with restrictions on travellers entering America without a vaccination set to be lifted in May.
That will be too late for Djokovic to play in Indian Wells or Miami, with the official US Open Twitter account making an unexpected plea to US authorities to grant Djokovic an exemption to play.
Novak Djokovic is one the greatest champions our sport has ever seen. The USTA and US Open are hopeful that Novak is successful in his petition to enter the country, and that the fans will be able to see him back in action at Indian Wells and Miami.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) March 3, 2023
That tweet sparked an angry reaction from many in the comments section on Twitter, with a large percentage of the responses suggesting Djokovic should not be granted an exemption.
The US Open intervention adds to calls from Indian Wells tournament chief Tommy Haas to allow Djokovic to play in his event.
“It would be nice to see if we could maybe lift those (entry restrictions) a little earlier and have him come to play Indian Wells and Miami,” said Haas.
“I think he wants to play, so we should give him the chance. Hopefully, we can have him there. I mean, it would be a disgrace in my eyes if he wasn’t coming to these events, or not allowed to come.
“We want the best tennis player in the world to be here. He’s writing me, he wants to be here. So of course, you’re like, OK, let’s try to make this happen.
“How can we figure this out that’s going to be realistic? But at the end of the day, unfortunately, that’s not in our hands and that’s what’s frustrating.”
Djokovic has confirmed he will pull out of Indian Wells prior to the draw if he is not granted entry, after he opted not to do that last year when he was also blocked from entering.
“Whatever the decision is, if I’m not allowed, I’m going to pull out, of course, before the draw,” said Djokovic while competing in Dubai this week.
“Let’s see what the answer is, then I’ll take it from there.”
It is hard to see what exemption Djokovic could get that will allow him to compete in America this month.
All visitors entering America will need to show proof of vaccination, with that rule set to lifted on May 11th.
That date ensures Djokovic should be allowed to play in the summer hard court events in North America, including the US Open.
Yet he admits he is frustrated to be missing out on the two ATP 1000 events this month.
Last week, the 35-year-old told a press conference regarding Indian Wells and Miami: “I’m waiting for a reply, it’s not on me. I will know soon.
“Everything is in process. I’m thankful to the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments and communities for their support publicly.
“They would like me to be able to play in their tournaments. I’m very thankful for that because I have a big desire to be there, I haven’t played there for a couple of years.
“I’m looking forward to a positive decision coming soon, but it’s not in my hands.”
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