Cincy Tennis court officially includes Novak Djokovic, but will he play?
CINCINNATI (WXIX) — The courts are out for the 2022 Western & Southern Open, and 21-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic is set to play.
The squads include the world’s top 41 men and 39 women, including No. 1 players Daniil Medvedev and Iga Swiatek as well as Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. Nineteen Grand Slam champions will play in total.
But it’s Djokovic whose inclusion raises eyebrows.
The Serbian, who didn’t play in Cincinnati last year, was candid about his refusal to get a COVID-19 shot. That position appears to thwart his ability to play in this year’s North American hard-court swing, which includes ATP 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati ahead of the US Open.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, non-US citizens must be fully vaccinated with the primary series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine to travel to the United States by air. Only limited exceptions apply.
Hours after winning his seventh Wimbledon title, Djokovic said he has no plans to get vaccinated and will not play at the US Open unless CDC restrictions change or that he does have a medical exemption, according to ESPN.
“I’m not vaccinated and don’t plan on getting vaccinated so the only good news I can have is they’re removing the mandatory green vaccine card or whatever you call it to get in in the United States or an exemption,” Djokovic said on Sunday, according to ESPN Reporting. “I don’t know. I don’t think exemption is actually possible. If it’s a possibility, I don’t know what exemption would be. I don’t know. I don’t have many answers there -down.
A tournament spokesperson provided FOX19 with the following statement on Djokovic’s inclusion on the court:
“The United States government requires all noncitizens and nonresidents to present a certificate of full immunization of a CDC-approved vaccine to enter the country. As an ATP 1000, it is an automatic entry for male players. He indicated at Wimbledon that he was not vaccinated. However, if the policy of the United States changed, then he could choose to play.
Djokovic’s vaccination stance has caused headaches in the professional tennis world. The 35-year-old’s absence from major tournaments leaves an undeniable void, especially against the backdrop of an increasingly injury-prone Rafael Nadal (36) and an entirely absent Roger Federer (40).
Then there is the drama. Djokovic landed in Australia hoping to play at the Australian Open earlier this year. The immigration minister revoked Djokovic’s visa, placing the tennis star in pre-trial detention. He was eventually deported. The debacle captured international attention, dividing the public and leaving a stain on the sport.
Djokovic explained his reasoning to the BBC after the Australian Open: “I have never been against vaccinations,” he said, confirming that he received vaccinations as a child, “but I ‘ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”
Djokovic is currently ranked No. 7, a partial result of the ATP stripping Wimbledon of his ranking points after the tournament banned Russian and Belarusian players due to the war in Ukraine.
The Western & Southern Open will take place August 13-21 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
All individual tickets for all sessions are on sale now. Multi-day passes are sold out.
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