The United States Open gets under way in less than a month, and one of its biggest draws is understandably prepping for the fortnight. There’s just one problem, however; should things remain the same, he will not even be able to set foot in the United States, let alone the home of the last major championship of the year in Flushing Meadows, New York. Indeed, Novak Djokovic’s unvaccinated status has served as a hindrance to his unimpeded arrival in the country. As currently framed, immigration laws prohibit the entry of those with no inoculation against COVID-19.
The easiest path for Djokovic is, of course, to get injected with the vaccine. After all, it’s also the safest; science has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that getting the shots works. That said, he remains steadfast in refusing to do so. It has already led to inability to defend his Australian Open title in January because of his stance, and there remains a big question mark on whether he will be welcome Down Under next year after having been summarily deported. As he argued, missing out on Grand Slam tournaments “is a price I’m willing to pay.”
As head-scratching as Djokovic’s beliefs may be, there is something to be said about the strength of his conviction. He has gone on record as saying his ultimate goal is to accumulate the highest number of major titles. Because of his stubbornness (even against reason), however, he has placed — and continues to place — this objective in jeopardy. In this regard, he winds up being his worst enemy. No doubt, he doesn’t see things that way, and, yes, he will have cause you contend that the very traits hampering him are those that brought him to the top of the sport in the first place.
Djokovic is not alone in pointing out that rules on border entry in countries around the world insofar as they pertain to COVID-19 can’t even be uniformly applied, and not just to visitors. In the US, for example, residents can wander around freely without masks regardless of their vaccination status — as clear an indication of illogic as any. Nonetheless, it is what it is. Bottom line, he has the power to do something about his plight. That he isn’t inclined to help himself is on him, and him alone.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.