Tennis great Novak Djokovic announced on Thursday that he will miss the U.S. Open, which is set to start in a matter of days.
Djokovic has been effectively banned from the U.S., and therefore the U.S. Open, over a rule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) barring foreign nationals who remain unvaccinated against COVID from entering the country.
“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” the 21-time Grand Slam champion posted to his Twitter account. “Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support.”
“Good luck to my fellow players!” the 35-year-old added. “I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!”
Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open. 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! 👋🏼
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) August 25, 2022
Djokovic has made clear for months now that he has no plans to vaccinate against the virus, even if that means sacrificing opportunities for more championships.
“That is the price that I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic told the BBC back in February. “Because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”
“I was never against vaccination,” the athlete said, “but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”
Earlier this month, the tennis star echoed the same and noted that an exemption, which he has not been granted, was unlikely.
“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated,” Djokovic said, according to Yahoo! Sports. “So the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter the United States or exemption.”
“I don’t think exemption is realistically possible,” he added. “I think it’s just whether or not they remove this in time for me to get to the USA.”
Djokovic has already had to sacrifice for this principle. The tennis star in January was dramatically detained and deported from Australia over his vaccination status, rendering him unable to defend his Australian Open title.
“It has affected me definitely in the first several months of the year,” Djokovic said of the ordeal. “I was not feeling great generally. I mean, mentally, emotionally, I was not at a good place.”