NEW YORK: Almost 12,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to work with the country’s government to allow Novak Djokovic to compete in the U.S. Open despite his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Djokovic will not be able to participate in the year’s final Grand Slam due to current rules under which travellers seeking to enter the United States have to be fully vaccinated and provide proof before boarding flights. The 21-times major champion won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles in 2021 but was unable to defend his Melbourne Park crown this year after being deported from Australia over his vaccination status in January. “There is absolutely no reason at this stage of the pandemic to not allow Djokovic to play at the U.S. Open 2022,” said the change.org petition, which was launched on June 21. “(The) US Government and USTA must work together to allow him to play … MAKE IT HAPPEN, USTA!” The Serb, who retained his Wimbledon crown with a win over Australia’s Nick Kyrgios earlier this month, in February said he was prepared to miss Grand Slam tournaments rather than take the COVID-19 vaccine. The main draw at the U.S. Open begins on Aug. 29.