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Unvaccinated foreign travelers still can’t enter the U.S., even if they’re famous tennis players

With fewer than four weeks to go until the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic is still looking for a way into the country

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Novak Djokovic plays tennis in Visoko, Bosnia, on July 13, 2022.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action while playing an exhibition match against Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in Visoko, Bosnia, Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

Armin Durgut, Associated Press

As the start of the U.S. Open quickly approaches, unvaccinated superstar Novak Djokovic is still waiting to hear if he’ll be allowed to play. The law currently requires foreign travelers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, an obstacle that even the athletically gifted Djokovic is unable to clear.

But there’s still time for public health rules to change. This week, U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican from New York, urged President Joe Biden to allow Djokovic and other unvaccinated tennis players to enter the country.

“Even though several Americans who are unvaccinated will take part in the (U.S. Open) this year, prominent players from around the world, including Novak Djokovic, will not be able to participate due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” she wrote in a letter to Biden, which she shared on Twitter. “I strongly urge you to issue National Interest Exemptions for unvaccinated members of the Association of Tennis Professionals.”

In a follow-up tweet, Tenney accused the president of caring more about political battles than public health.

“President Biden’s unscientific vaccine mandate on international travel is about control & politics, not public health,” she said.

Djokovic has already missed several tournaments this year because of his unvaccinated status, including, most notably, the Australian Open. The former world no. 1 was deported from Australia around 24 hours before he was slated to begin his first match, as The Washington Post reported at the time.

Just this week, 35-year-old tennis player had to drop out of a Montreal tournament due to Canada’s vaccination rules. “Canada currently requires travelers to have at least two doses of the vaccine to enter the country,” Sports Illustrated reported.

However, Djokovic has not yet admitted defeat in his battle to play in the U.S. Open, which kicks off on August 29 in New York City. He recently posted a video on Instagram of himself training for the tournament.

“I am preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to US. Fingers crossed!,” he said in the caption.