“I think it’s BS,” said tennis great John McEnroe of the CDC vaccine mandate that continues to keep Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic from playing in the United States, potentially including the upcoming U.S. Open. McEnroe also insisted that Djokovic “is perfectly entitled to make the decision” for himself whether to vaccinate or not, according to a video from Fox Digital via Outkick.
McEnroe made the comments to the press during Friday’s Los Angeles Football Club match at Banc of California Stadium, where the tennis star cohosted live color commentary with team co-owner and actor Will Ferrell.
“Well, first of all, I think it’s B.S. That’s what I think. I think he should be allowed to play. My personal opinion is, I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve had a booster shot. That’s up to the individual. … He is perfectly entitled to make the decision,” McEnroe said.
McEnroe’s comments came after the CDC relaxed some vaccination rules on Thursday, but has not budged on the rule restricting travel to the U.S. by unvaccinated foreigners. Djokovic has chosen not to receive the vaccine, which has barred him from competition in countries that have imposed strict mandates, such as Australia, Canada, and the U.S.
“The guy is one of the greatest athletes in any sport … he’s careful about anything he puts in his body. … So it’s frustrating. … But that’s the rules we have right now in the government…I don’t agree with it,” McEnroe continued.
Djokovic was forced to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati but remains hopeful that something could change and he will be able to play in the U.S. Open. The tennis star said he is “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”.
McEnroe has been outspoken in his defense of Djokovic and his criticism of the CDC’s vaccine mandates:
“These politicians are getting in the way too much,” McEnroe said, according to the New York Post. “They did it in Australia. Let’s let the guy come in and play in the U.S. I mean, come on. This is ridiculous.”
“Whatever you think the government should or should not do, it’s a bummer for tennis,” he added.
“I would love to go to States. But as of today, that’s not possible,” Djokovic said in March, when the CDC would not budge on the vaccine requirement for foreign travelers. “There is not much I can do anymore. I mean, it’s really up to the U.S. government to make a decision whether or not they allow unvaccinated people to go into the country.”
He also posted to Instagram at the time, “As international COVID regulations are always being amended, I wanted to wait and see if anything would change. The CDC confirmed today that regulations are not changing, which means I will be not be playing in the U.S. I know my fans are looking forward to seeing me play again and I hope to be back playing for them on the tour soon.”
John McEnroe thinks it's B.S. that Djokovic is barred from entering the country based on government mandates. https://t.co/rHjX2eiCPH
— OutKick (@Outkick) August 14, 2022
Outkick’s Clay Travis, who has also defended Djokovic, said Saturday on his podcast:
“Novak Djokovic should be allowed to play in the U.S. Open. The United States is still enforcing an archaic and stupid, and anti-science rule that if you come into the United States as a foreign national you have to have had the COVID shot. That’s if you fly. Now, if you walk across southern border illegally, whether or not you got the COVID shot doesn’t matter. So, one funny idea is, Novak Djokovic should get his backpack, put a couple if tennis rackets in, fly to Mexico, and then go to the United States border and just walk across and say he is here to play in the U.S. Open.”
“He wouldn’t violate the law because we are basically letting everyone in across the southern border,” Travis concluded.