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Novak Djokovic facing US Open ban but Russians will be allowed to play

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Exclusive: Djokovic is set to miss two of the four majors this year due to his deeply-held opposition to the Covid jab

Wimbledon’s isolation on the issue of Russian and Belarusian players is set to deepen on Tuesday with the United States Tennis Association expected to confirm that no politically motivated bans will be applied to the player field at the upcoming US Open.

However, Novak Djokovic is still expected to be unable to participate in the year’s final grand-slam event, as there are no plans to relax American immigration rules that require incoming travelers to have undergone vaccination for Covid.

A board meeting of the USTA earlier this week is understood to have heard arguments in favor of a Russia ban from certain delegates. However, the verdict came down against taking a political stance in the manner of the All England Club.

One key difference is that there was no instruction from the US government to limit Russian sporting propaganda opportunities. In the UK, by contrast, sports minister Nigel Huddleston had expressed the government’s desire to avoid Russian victories at Wimbledon, for fear of handing positive PR to Vladimir Putin.

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While the members of the USTA board were open to a discussion of the options, the hardline stance of the two professional tours – the ATP and WTA – must have been a factor in their eventual decision.

“We recognize that each organization has had to deal with unique circumstances that affect their decisions,” said the USTA in a statement on Tuesday. “Based on our own circumstances, the USTA will allow all eligible players, regardless of nationality, to compete at the 2022 US Open.”

Insisting that political statements had no place in tennis, and describing the All England Club’s position as discriminatory, the two tours have stripped rankings points from Wimbledon in relation to the ban on Russian and Belarusian players. The US Open would undoubtedly have suffered the same fate had it followed suit.

As for the issue of Covid protocols, USA immigration last week dropped their requirement for all incoming airline passengers to have tested negative for the virus before boarding their flight. There are no plans, however, to end the need for a vaccination certificate.

With Australia also likely to maintain its vaccination requirements for months to come, it seems that Djokovic will continue to be excluded by two of the four majors unless he changes his deeply-held opposition to the jab.

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