Thousands of Novak Djokovic fans have taken to social media demanding that the Serb be allowed to play in this year's US Open grand slam.
It comes in response to reports that America has no plans to lift its vaccination rule in time for the tournament, effectively ruling Djokovic out.
The 20-time grand slam champion has made it clear in the past that he does not agree with mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations and has advocated for freedom of choice for players.
However, that stance has put him at odds with several tournaments around the world, with the US indicating that it has no intention of lifting a ban on unvaccinated travellers entering the country.
“There are no plans to relax American immigration rules that require incoming travellers to have undergone vaccination for Covid," the UK's Telegraph reported last week.
This would rule out Djokovic from entering the US, considering he was steadfast that he wouldn't get vaccinated to play grand slams.
The US Open begins in August and if the rule remains in place it would mark the second grand slam in 2022 that Djokovic has missed.
Djokovic missed the Australian Open earlier when he was detained over his vaccination status and documents upon entering the country.
The Serb unsuccessfully attempted to fight the ruling in court and was eventually deported from Australia, in a move that made headlines around the world.
Despite the US Open conundrum, Djokovic is set to take part at Wimbledon as the top seed in the men's draw, with Russian World No.1 Daniil Medvedev excluded from competing and World No.2 Alexander Zverev out injured.
As things currently stand in terms of the US Open though, the 35-year-old would need a vaccination exemption to be able to enter America.
However, respected tennis journalist Christopher Clarey tweeted last week that US Open officials would not be seeking an exemption so Djokovic can play at Flushing Meadows.
The latest from the US Open on Djokovic from my overnight piece: He is not able to enter USA at this stage. The USTA will not seek an exemption. Will follow government policy, which could, of course, change by late August.https://t.co/eCcUXXycIi pic.twitter.com/TGlwEGeuNW
— Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 (@christophclarey) June 15, 2022
Fans demand Novak Djokovic be allowed to play in US Open
The drama has sparked a wave of backlash from Djokovic's supporters, with an online petition titled 'allow Djokovic to play in US Open 2022' garnering thousands of signatures.
A fan by the name of Padma Rajan started the petition and argued that if unvaccinated American players can participate in the tournament, Djokovic should be allowed to do so as well.
"There is absolutely no reason at this stage of the pandemic to not allow Djokovic to play at the US Open 2022," Rajan wrote in the petition.
"US Government and USTA must work together to allow him to play. If unvaccinated American players can play, Djokovic as one of the legends of the game, must be allowed to play. MAKE IT HAPPEN, USTA."
At the time of writing, more than 2900 people had signed the petition in support of Djokovic.
— Chandramauli Govind (@AbysmalProximus) June 20, 2022
Djokovic and great rival Rafa Nadal head into Wimbledon boosted by the absences of Medvedev and Zverev.
With Djokovic losing in the quarter-finals at the French Open - where he was the defending champion - the Serb dropped to World No.3, with Nadal moving up one spot to World No.4 after his 22nd grand slam title.
The pair will go into Wimbledon as the top two seeds, however, meaning the earliest they can potentially meet at the All England Club is in the final.
However, Djokovic's ranking could drop and low as World No.8 after Wimbledon, due to the ATP's decision to strip the tournament of rankings points.
The controversial move came in response to Wimbledon's ban on Russian and Belarusian players.
This means defending champion Djokovic will 2,000 points even if he wins the title.
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