Novak Djokovic sent blunt vaccine message by Canada Open chief as participation terms set

Novak Djokovic has been told to get the COVID-19 vaccination if he wants to compete at the Canadian Open next month. Canada is not currently allowing people into the country unless they have been vaccinated, with Djokovic maintaining his desire to remain unjabbed.

“The situation is clear – either Canada will change the rules regarding vaccination or he will have to roll up his sleeves and receive the vaccine,” said Canadian Open director Eugene Lapierre. “However, I do not consider either of those two scenarios likely.”

Djokovic hit the headlines at the start of the year when he was banned from the Australian Open due to his vaccination status. The 35-year-old had flown into Melbourne ahead of the tournament but was ultimately deported from Australia following two court battles.

He was allowed to compete at the French Open and at Wimbledon earlier this summer as he won his 21st Grand Slam title on Centre Court in SW19 by defeating Nick Kyrgios in the final. But the Serbian could now be forced to wait until next May to play in another Grand Slam as he currently won’t be allowed to compete at the US Open, due to their COVID-19 restrictions, or the Australian Open, as he faces a three-year ban from travelling Down Under.

Djokovic has won the Canadian Open four times throughout his career and last tasted glory at the Montreal tournament in 2016 when he defeated Kei Nishikori in the deciding match. But the Canadian health minister Jean Yves Duclos has also sent out a warning to Djokovic ahead of this year’s tournament.
“The rules apply to everyone,” said Duclos. “There are some exceptions, but the rules apply to everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet.”

The Canadian Open is set to get underway at the start of next month, three weeks before the US Open begins. And Djokovic has explained that he won’t try to play at Flushing Meadows unless the rules allow him to. “Not going to go to America if I don’t have a permission,” insisted the veteran.
“The Australian saga for me was of course not pleasant at all. I would never go into a country where I don’t have a permission to travel. I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody and I expect people to at least respect my decision. If I have permission, I’ll be there. If I don’t, I won’t be there – it’s not the end of the world.”

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