Novak Djokovic looks set to miss the Rogers Cup in Montreal as a result of his vaccination status. The Wimbledon champion could be set to lose more ground in his battle with Rafael Nadal with the Spaniard set to compete at the tournament.
Djokovic has been billed as the poster boy for the anti-vax movement since he was deported from Australia in the build-up to the first Grand Slam of the year as a result of his vaccination status. He is now set to miss most of the tennis season in addition to this as a result of the coronavirus policies in place in Canada and the USA.
Both countries require foreign nationals to have taken two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine in order to enter and the 21-time major winner does not qualify. This could prove disastrous in Djokovic’s quest to be considered the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) of male tennis.
The Serb has lost ground to Nadal as a result of his unwillingness to be jabbed and could be set to fall further behind the clay-court specialist in tournament wins as a result. Eugene Lapierre, the tournament director for the Montreal tournament, spoke specifically about Djokovic’s participation.
He stated Djokovic would be missing from the tournament alongside Alexander Zverev who is still recovering from his French Open injury. “We will have a great tournament,” he announced. “All the best players will be there except for two and we know the reasons for their absence.
“Either the Canadian government is going to change the rules regarding vaccination or he is going to roll up his sleeves and get the vaccine. But I don’t think any of those scenarios are realistic.”
The Canadian Government have announced that Djokovic will not receive any special treatment. Speaking explicitly about the 35-year-old’s status, Canadian Health Minister Jean Yves Duclos said: “The rules apply to everyone. There are some exceptions, but… the rules apply to everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet.”
Djokovic recently announced that he does not plan to get vaccinated, so his participation in the tournament already looks to be doomed.
Lapierre also spoke about Nadal’s participation in the tournament. The 36-year-old was forced to pull out of Wimbledon as a result of an abdominal tear however he looks set to recover in time to take part when the Rogers Cup gets underway at the start of next month. “Nadal really wants to come to Montreal and his hotel rooms are already booked,” Lapierre explained.
“He was sent a crate of balls to use during the tournament to prepare. He should return to training on Monday.” Russian and Belarusian players like world No 1 Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are also set to make their returns at the tournament after Wimbledon organisers banned them from competing in SW19.
Djokovic’s vaccination status continues to cause controversy as his career opportunities continue to take a hit. The conversation and debate surrounding the issue look set to continue throughout the North American swing.