Vax requirements sidelining Novak Djokovic for US Open are full of holes | David Whitley

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
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The U.S. Open started Monday without the greatest player in tennis history.

Okay, it’s debatable whether Novak Djokovic is the GOAT. What’s inarguable is the reason he’s not playing is D-U-M-B.

Djokovic is unvaccinated against COVID-19, so the Serbian can’t travel to the US.

If you think refusing the needle makes Djokovic a science-denying dummy, fine. But please explain the scientific/safety rationale behind the policy keeping Djokovic out.

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American players don’t have to be vaccinated. None of the spectators who’ll pile into 22,547-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium have to be vaccinated. For all we’ll know, the guy sitting courtside could have just returned from a week of sipping bat soup at his Wuhan timeshare.

Nobody is even required to wear a mask.

Yet Djokovic, who’s incredibly fit and willing to be tested 10 times a day, is a threat to public safety?

The U.S. Open says it’s following government rules requiring foreigners to be vaccinated. What if he came across the Southern border instead? Would he get a bus ride to New York, free cell phones, meals, hotel rooms and maybe even tickets to Serena Williams’ final match? 

Djokovic was allowed to play last year when the CDC’s position was that vaccinations helped prevent the virus from spreading. The CDC now says vaccines don’t prevent transmission, yet Djokovic is banned?

I’ve been vaccinated and boosted and would advise everyone to get jabbed, but I can see why Djokovic might be a tad confused over US policy. 

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, is not vaccinated against COVID-19 so he was not allowed to play in the US Open in New York.

Winners of the week: Nick Saban, Irish catering company who served free better

Stud of the Week: Nick Saban. Not only did he get a raise to reclaim the mantle of highest-paid coach ($11.7 million a year), Saban reiterated to ESPN that he’s never sent an email in his life. Take that, Big Brother Google!

Stud II: Levy UK + Ireland, the catering company at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, where Nebraska played Northwestern. When its online payment system went haywire, the caterer served free beer and food to fans for two hours.

Dud of the Week: Huskers coach Scott Frost, who apparently chugged a few beers before calling for an onside kick in the third quarter that triggered Northwestern’s 31-28 comeback win.

Money for nothing: Forbes reported last week that the average NFL franchise is now valued at $4.47 billion and Dallas is worth $8 billion. Geez, what would the Cowboys be worth if they’d won more than three playoff games in the last 25 years?

Male enhancement: While hawking his TB12 boxers and briefs last week, Tom Brady said consumers could look like the male models pictured on his website if they roll up a TB12 sock ($20) and stuff it down their underwear. He then demonstrated the technique off camera.

There’s an easy Deflategate joke in there, but good taste dictates we move on. ...

Hooters has signed 51 offensive linemen to NIL deals. There are none from Florida or FSU, but three from FAU, four from USF and six from Vanderbilt. Who knew Vandy even had six offensive linemen? ...

The PGA Tour announced it will have 12 tournaments with $20 million purses next year. In response, the LIV Tour announced it will play three-hole tournaments next year and the winners will get an AFC Central franchise of their choice. ...

Wimbledon runner-up/Celtics nut Nick Kyrgios told Sports Illustrated he’s gotten so depressed after Boston losses that he tanked matches. Good thing he’s not a Magic fan or Kyrgios wouldn’t qualify as a ball boy at the DB Racquet Club. 

Saban Update: Not to be outdone, Jimbo Fisher told ESPN he, too, has never sent an email. But he has pretended to be a deposed Nigerian dictator needing your bank account number in order to transfer funds to help pay for Texas A&M’s recruiting class. ... RIP Len Dawson. Hall of Fame stats aside, the QB’s greatest moment was getting photographed smoking a cigarette and drinking a can of Fresca during halftime of Super Bowl I. Reminds me of the time Tom Brady was photographed eating a chickpea power bar and sipping cauliflower juice during halftime of Super Bowl XLIX. 

U.S. Open update: Unvaccinated American players will be allowed to sneeze in line judges’ faces as long as they say “gesundheit!” afterward. 

Forbes II: The Jaguars, who have seven playoff wins in the past 25 years, are valued at $3.475 billion. That increased $1.248 billion after Urban Meyer was fired. 

NIL clarification: Hooters said it signed Vandy’s offensive linemen because they are skinny enough to tastefully model orange Dolfin shorts at promotional events. ...

Now that the football facility is built, Florida’s next big project is refurbishing Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. An early survey revealed 96% of fans want the school to hire Levy UK + Ireland as its vendor. 

Forbes III: The Bucs, who have 10 playoff wins in the past 25 years, are valued at $3.675 billion. That would be $976 million more if their quarterback bothered showing up for training camp and didn’t stuff socks down his underwear. ... Len Dawson lived to 87. Maybe Brady should add Fresca and clove cigarettes to his TB12 diet. ...

That’s about all the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. Until next time, if you get an email from His Excellency Jimbo Fisher from College Station, Nigeria, please notify the FBI.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley.

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