Radio presenter Ben Fordham has slammed America’s “ridiculous” Covid-19 restrictions after 21-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic was forced to withdraw from next week’s US Open.

On Friday morning AEST, Djokovic confirmed that he will not compete at this year’s US Open after refusing to get vaccinated.

It’s the second grand slam tournament the 35-year-old Serbian will miss due to not being jabbed after he was famously deported prior to the Australian Open earlier this year.

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Last month, Djokovic was named on the tournament’s official entry list despite the US government’s requirement for non-citizens to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” tweeted Djokovic, a three-time US Open champion.

“Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world.”

Speaking on 2GB, Fordham ripped into the “embarrassing” decision not to let Djokovic take part in the grand slam tournament as he chases a record-equalling 22 major titles.

“He only wants to go there to play tennis,” Fordham fumed.

“It is embarrassing, and it defies logic and science.

“Here you have one of the fittest people on the planet. He doesn’t drink, he travels with his own personal doctor and nutritionist.

“This kind of thing undoes a lot of the good will around vaccines. People want to see the best tennis players in the biggest tournaments, and this cult-like approach to the jab is counter-productive.

“The average person, vaccinated or unvaccinated just want to get on with their lives. It’s not about safety anymore, it’s not about stopping the spread.

“If you’re unvaccinated, you’re treated the same as someone with a serious criminal record. You’re not allowed in.

“And next week, the world will watch the US Open knowing the best in the world isn’t there.

“I think the treatment of Novak Djokovic is ridiculous. He’s not wanting to work in a hospital or a nursing home. He just wants to belt a ball around a tennis court, and he’s being prevented from doing so.”

Djokovic’s bombshell announcement came just 90 minutes before the draw for the final Slam of the season was made in New York, where organisers announced he would be replaced by a lucky loser from qualifying.

“Novak is a great champion and it is very unfortunate that he will be unable to compete at the 2022 US Open, as he is unable to enter the country due to the federal government’s vaccination policy for non-U.S. citizens,” US Open Tournament Director Stacey Allaster said in a statement.

“We look forward to welcoming Novak back at the 2023 US Open.”

Tennis legend John McEnroe blasted the Djokovic ban: “At this point, in the pandemic, we’re two and a half years in, I think people in all parts of the world know more about it, and the idea that he can’t travel here to play, to me is a joke.”

Ironically, during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Djokovic was allowed to compete at New York where he was champion in 2011, 2015 and 2018.

— with AFP

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