Legendary Athlete Calls Biden Vaccine Policy ‘A Joke’, Stands Up For Novak Djokovic

(Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
Font Size:

Tennis legend John McEnroe called it a “joke” that superstar Serbian Novak Djokovic will be barred from playing in the U.S. Open because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic announced his withdrawal from the grand slam event Thursday morning, stating that he won’t be able to travel to New York for the event. It will be the second grand slam and at least the fourth event overall Djovokic has missed in 2022 due to his vaccination status, having previously been prevented from playing in the Australian Open, ATP Indian Wells Masters and Miami Open events.

“My opinion about Novak is what I’ve been stating for a while that I think it’s a joke if he’s not allowed to participate here,” McEnroe said Wednesday on an ESPN conference call. McEnroe works for the network as a tennis analyst during major events.

“It doesn’t look good,” McEnroe continued. “I guess we’ll know by [Thursday] when the draw is made [at noon]. It’s been very unfortunate for him and for tennis, I believe, just to have an opportunity for him [to] play. It’s just a shame this whole year.”

Djokovic is unable to play due to a Biden administration policy which bars unvaccinated foreigners from entering the U.S. He has stated he will continue to refuse vaccination due to his belief in freedom of choice.

McEnroe attributed some of Djokovic’s success to his determination in situations like these: “As I’ve said before, if it was me personally, I’ve had couple of vaccines, a booster shot. I would have done that. But maybe that’s why he’s won 21 and I won seven, because he’s using [this] mentally to fuel him, that mentality, I’ve got to do what I believe in. So that’s an issue. Just seems like after all this time that we should be allowing him to play.” (RELATED: Tennis Star Whose Father Compared Him To Jesus Christ Wins Legal Battle Over Vaccine, Allowed To Compete)

The 2022 U.S. Open will begin Aug. 29. In Djokovic’s absence, the top seed will be the world’s number one ranked player, Russian Daniil Medvedev, the defending champion.