Novak Djokovic not competing in US over COVID restrictions would be a ‘disgrace,’ ex-tennis star says

 

Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Australian Open on Monday after defeating Australia’s own Alex de Minaur in straight sets.

But as the 21-time Grand Slam champion focuses on extending his record in Melbourne, one tournament director is thinking about the hurdles that lie ahead.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia waves to the crowd after winning in the fourth round singles match against Alex de Minaur of Australia during day eight of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 23, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia.
(Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Former professional tennis player and current Indian Wells tournament director, Tommy Hass, expressed his desire Monday that Djokovic would be able to continue his season in the U.S. despite the current laws that would keep him from entering the country because of his COVID-19 vaccine status.

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“If Djokovic stays healthy, I don’t see how he’s not going to be number one,” Haas told reporters, via Reuters.

“Obviously the one problem being that he still cannot come to the U.S. If he doesn’t play Indian Wells and Miami in March (it will be tough), they’re supposed to lift those mandates by mid-April.”

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration released a letter earlier this month stating that restrictions on non-U.S. citizens who are unvaccinated and traveling into the U.S. will continue to be enforced through April 10, 2023.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia argues with the chair umpire during his second round match against Enzo Couacaud of France at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.
(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

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“It would be nice to see if we could maybe lift those a little earlier and have him come to play Indian Wells and Miami. I think he wants to play, so we should give him the chance. Hopefully we can have him there,” Hass continued.

Djokovic returned to Australia in December for the first time in a year after being deported from the country for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 — the government previously lifted its restrictions on unvaccinated travelers over the summer.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during the Davis Cup Finals 2021, Semifinal 1, tennis match played between Croatia and Serbia at Madrid Arena pabilion on December 03, 2021, in Madrid, Spain.
(Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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But Djokvic currently stands to miss Indian Wells which begins in California on March 9 and the Miami Open beginning on March 19. He previously missed the U.S. Open last August because of the travel restrictions.

“I mean, it would be a disgrace in my eyes if he wasn’t coming to these events, or not allowed to come,” Haas said.