As of Monday, a rule from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still stands barring the 21-time Grand Slam champ from traveling to the U.S. to compete in the tournament that starts on August 29.
Tennis 365 reported Monday that Djokovic is still on the main draw list, but it’s unclear if the CDC will relax its rules or carve out an exemption for the athlete.
Djokovic, who is not hopeful an exemption will be granted, has made clear in the past that he has no plans to vaccinate against the virus, noting his good health and feelings about medical freedom.
“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated,” he said last month, 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,” Djokovic added. “I think it’s just whether or not they remove this in time for me to get to the USA.”
Back in February, the 35-year-old told the BBC that he’s willing to sacrifice championships to stand up for his belief in medical freedom.
“That is the price that I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic said about potentially missed tournaments over the vaccine requirement. “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.”
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.”
Some have come to Djokovic’s defense over the arbitrary rule banning the fit athlete, including tennis legend John McEnroe.
“These politicians are getting in the way too much,” McEnroe blasted via ESPN airwaves, last month. “They did it in Australia. Let’s let the guy come in and play in the U.S.”
“I mean, come on,” he added. “This is ridiculous.”