Novak Djokovic’s hopes of competing at the US Open in August have been left in further limbo following New York mayor Eric Adams’ controversial vaccination ruling. On Thursday, Adams lifted New York City’s strict vaccine mandate for professional athletes, allowing performers based in the city to compete in home fixtures.
The previous update to the mandate allowed visiting players to compete in NYC regardless of their vaccination status but prevented hometown athletes from being available. But his decision means Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, New York Mets, and New York Yankees players can now participate.
Adams’ announcement has been widely disputed, especially by city workers who have accused him of having double standards. Many complainants worked in New York throughout the pandemic when there was no vaccine available, and those who have since refused the vaccine remain on unpaid suspensions.
But the mayor has defended his decision and played down accusations of bias towards elite athletes, arguing it was economy-driven as he strives to ‘move the city forward’.
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He said: “Some will boo us, others will cheer us – that is not only a game of baseball, but that’s the game of life, and we have to be on the field in order to win. By putting our home teams on an equal playing field, we increase their chances of winning, and that has a real impact on this city. It’s not just fans in the stands; it’s fans in the stores. These are real dollars, and they play a major role.
“You may consider this a double standard. I consider it an analysis that I made, and I’m comfortable with my decision. I’m the mayor of the city, and I’m going to make some tough choices. People are not going to agree with some of them. I was not elected to follow. I was not elected to be fearful but to be fearless. I must move this city forward. I’m not making this decision loosely or haphazardly. The city has to function.”
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Due to his unvaccinated status, Djokovic has only featured in one tournament this season, the Dubai Tennis Championships. The Serb was deported from Australia before the Australian Open and wasn’t allowed to enter the United States in time for Indian Wells and the Miami Open this month.
But Adams’ recent decisions feels like a significant loosening of the Covid-19 restrictions in one of the country’s biggest cities. And whilst he’s currently out of August’s US Open, it could be the start of Djokovic’s pathway to entering. But that will solely depend on whether unvaccinated foreign visitors will be able to enter the US by the time the major rolls around. Currently, foreign visitors who are not vaccinated are not allowed to enter the country.