Novak Djokovic hopes he could still be allowed to play at the US Open despite refusing a coronavirus vaccination.

The 35-year-old Wimbledon champion has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding coronavirus protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

Djokovic said in a statement on Saturday: "I am 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. Fingers crossed!"

With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors.

Djokovic was not allowed to play in Australia, where issues surrounding his visa ended with him being deported from Melbourne on public health grounds due to not taking the vaccine.

The three-time US Open winner senses a pull of public support for his situation, as he insists he will not consider receiving a vaccine.

In his message on Saturday, Djokovic said: "I just wanted to take a moment and say to all of you how grateful I am to see so many messages of support and love from all around the world these days.

"I wasn't expecting it, and that's why it feels so mindblowing. Just wanted to say THANK YOU.

"It feels special that people connect with my tennis career in such a loving and supportive way and wish for me to continue to compete."

He has found backing from John McEnroe, the American tennis great, who told Tennis 365 in July: "I hope someone finds a way to sort this out. It's crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage."

Djokovic lost to Daniil Medvedev in last year's men's singles final in New York, when the current entry rules were not in place.

Senator Marsha Blackburn also spoke out, saying last week that it was "absurd that Novak Djokovic is not allowed to enter the USA".

The St Louis Cardinals will not have All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado available to play in Toronto this week as they have not received the COVID-19 vaccination.

Canada requires all travellers to the country to be fully vaccinated, so Goldschmidt and Arenado will miss the Cardinals' two games against the Blue Jays on Tuesday and Wednesday, as confirmed by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak to reporters on Sunday.

St Louis entered Sunday's MLB action trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by 1.5 games for first place in the NL Central, and with a one-game lead on the Philadelphia Phillies for the third and final wild-card berth in the NL.

Goldschmidt and Arenado have played a major part in that success.

Goldschmidt is batting .333 with 22 home runs and 74 RBIs in 92 games, while Arenado is hitting .299 with 18 homers and 59 RBIs in 90 contests.

They were both selected to their seventh All-Star Game this season. Goldschmidt homered in the NL's 3-2 loss to the AL last Tuesday, but Arenado sat the game out due to tightness in his lower back.

The men's tennis tour has scrapped plans to stage four tournaments in China later this year as the pandemic continues to take its toll on the sporting calendar.

Mandatory quarantine rules make it unfeasible for international players and tour officials to travel to the events, including the Shanghai Masters, a top-tier ATP 1000 tournament.

The lucrative Shanghai event had been due to run from October 9-16 and would have featured many of the world's top players.

Also cancelled are the Chengdu Open and the Zhuhai Championships, which were scheduled to begin on September 26, and the China Open, billed for the following week.

The ATP said it had cancelled the three-week China swing "due to ongoing restrictions related to COVID-19".

It marks a third successive year in which the run of tournaments has had to be cancelled, with China last hosting ATP events in 2019, before the pandemic hit.

At the same time as it cancelled the tournaments in China on Thursday, the ATP made provision for its players to keep earning by announcing six new events to take place in September and October.

Those events will be played in San Diego, Seoul, Tel Aviv, Florence, Gijon and Naples, the ATP said, with all at ATP 250 level, the lowest rung of the main tour.

The WTA, which runs the women's tour, announced last December it would be suspending all its tournaments in China due to concerns over the wellbeing of Peng Shuai, a professional tennis player who appeared to allege she had been sexually assaulted by a powerful former government official.

Former doubles world number one Peng has since denied making the accusations, yet the WTA has remained concerned for her safety and freedom.

Chris Froome was forced to abandon the Tour de France on Thursday as the four-time champion tested positive for COVID-19.

The British rider sat 26th overall after Wednesday's stage 17, having spent over 69 hours on the road for the Israel Premier-Tech team.

The 37-year-old achieved his best Tour stage result since 2018 when he finished third on stage 12 up the Alpe d'Huez.

After a huge crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine, Froome was left in intensive care with multiple serious injuries. He looked nailed on for his best general classification result in a Grand Tour since then as the riders edged closer to the finish in Paris this Sunday.

However, in a video message posted on his Twitter page, Froome said he had received "pretty disappointing news".

"A test has revealed that I've contracted COVID, so I'm not going to be taking the start today," he said.

"I'm really disappointed not to be able to roll into Paris and finish off this Tour de France. It's been an extremely special race for us as a team and me personally as well. I've been finding my legs again.

"I'm going to head home now, switch off for a few days, and refocus on being ready for the Vuelta a Espana later this season."

The Vuelta begins in the Netherlands on August 19, with a time-trial opener in Utrecht, before taking place in Spain from stage four onwards.

Novak Djokovic must be allowed to play at the US Open because a ban over his COVID-19 vaccination refusal would be "crazy", according to John McEnroe.

The Serbian won his seventh Wimbledon title this month, but the All England Club event was just his second major of the year after missing the Australian Open in January.

Djokovic was not permitted to play in the opening major of 2022, where issues surrounding his visa ended with him being deported from Melbourne on public health grounds due to not taking the vaccine.

The 35-year-old hopes to compete at Flushing Meadows in August but has insisted he will not take the vaccination, while the United States is refusing to allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country.

The USTA confirmed it would adhere to US rulings surrounding coronavirus protocols, despite including Djokovic on the entry list for the final slam of the year on Wednesday.

Seven-time major champion McEnroe has previously suggested Djokovic should be allowed to compete and reiterated his calls for the 21-time slam winner to be exempt from vaccination regulations.

 "I mean, we have to find a way to get Novak into the US Open," McEnroe told Tennis365.

"How can he not be there? He has just won Wimbledon, he is a great champion and he should be in the US Open.

"I don't agree with his decision not to get vaccinated, but I respect it. He is one of the fittest guys in the world and everything he puts into his body, he is watching carefully.

"Now we are saying that because of his choice, he can't play at the US Open. I mean, come on. He has already been deported from Australia for the same reason and here we are again."

For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it would require a change of tack from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

"I hope someone finds a way to sort this out," McEnroe said. "It's crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage."

Sarina Wiegman said she was "very hopeful" of returning to the touchline for England's Euro 2022 quarter-final against Spain and revealed the Lionesses have tightened their squad bubble.

Head coach Wiegman was absent from the team's final group match against Northern Ireland after testing positive for COVID-19, and back-up goalkeeper Hannah Hampton has also come down with the coronavirus.

Wiegman said the worst of her symptoms were "a little temperature and a little coughing", and she has been able to watch team training from a safe distance, while wearing a mask.

"I'm good, I'm feeling well, actually ready to go, but still have to wait," said a healthy-looking Wiegman in a virtual news conference.

"Of course, I'm very hopeful, but we'll see what happens and we don't know. If I can't be there, I'll be there in another way."

Former Netherlands coach Wiegman would rather be at the game in Brighton, but if she does not test negative before the team travel from their London base, she will have a phone line to the England bench.

After naming the same team for each of England's three group games, Wiegman hinted she would go with that favoured XI again.

 

Spain have been hampered by the loss of star players Alexia Putellas and Jennifer Hermoso, meaning they are significantly under-strength, but they have still looked impressive at times and could test the hosts.

Their game is possession-based, and that is demonstrated by Spain having played the most passes in the opposition half – excluding crosses – at the tournament so far. Their total of 1,274 such passes puts them well clear on that list, with England second with 936 passes and France (746) down in third.

"Of course they missed two key players, but I still think they have a very good team, and they're very tight on the ball, but we've seen they have some vulnerabilities, so absolutely it's going to be a top game and I hope we'll be successful," Wiegman said.

"They're a very good team, we're a very good team too, and we want to play the best game we can and hopefully that will bring us the win. They'll probably have the ball a lot; I hope we'll have a lot of the ball too."

The COVID-19 situation worries every team, with the prospect of key personnel being forced out of important games. Tournament favourites England are doing all they can to avoid the virus circulating.

"It's very invisible, but we're trying to stay in our bubble and do the right things," Wiegman said. "When there is a positive we have to be agile, creative and continue with the ones that are fit.

"We did some more strict measurements and everyone understands. It's not the worst nightmare, it's just the situation we have to deal with."

Novak Djokovic intends to compete at the US Open at the end of August, but will not risk a reoccurrence of the vaccination-related furore that saw him deported from Australia.

The Serbian lifted his seventh Wimbledon title earlier this month, moving level with Pete Sampras for the second-most wins at the All England Club, only behind Roger Federer (eight).

Djokovic also returned to just one grand slam title behind Rafael Nadal's record of 22, with the US Open that starts on August 29 the final headline act of the 2022 season.

While Djokovic enjoyed more Wimbledon success, it was only his second major of the year after the world number seven missed the Australian Open in January due to his refusal to be vaccinated.

His insistence to not take the vaccination against COVID-19 also saw him miss the Indian Wells Masters in March, owing to the United States' coronavirus rulings.

The United States still does not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country without an exemption – meaning Djokovic's ability to appear in New York is in doubt.

Despite expressing his hopes to feature at the hard-court major, Djokovic insisted he will not be willing to face a repeat of the ongoings in Australia in order to compete.

"I'm not going to go to America if I don't have permission, so the Australian saga for me was not pleasant at all," he said after opening a tennis complex in the Bosnian town of Visoko.

"People still think I forced my way to Australia and tried to come in with no papers, permission or exemption – it is not true.

"That was proven in the court cases, so I would never go into a country where I didn't have permission to travel. I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best Grand Slam results in that country.

"Hopefully I can be there in January because I want to be there, and I also want to be in New York. I want to be in America and everywhere I can possibly play."

 

Djokovic remains hopeful for a change in policy in America given he has no intentions to take the vaccination, nor does he envisage an exemption coming.

"I am a professional tennis player, I don't go into politics or anything else because that doesn't interest me," he added.

"I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and I expect people to at least respect my decision.

"If I have permission, I'll be there. If I don't, I won't be there – it's not the end of the world."

Netherlands midfielder Jackie Groenen is set to miss the defending champions' second game at Euro 2022 after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

The news emerged just 13 hours after Groenen played the full 90 minutes against Sweden in the Netherlands' opener, a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium.

In a statement on Twitter, Oranje team officials stated: "Jackie Groenen has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore be in isolation for the next few days. When she is free of complaints and tests negative, she can rejoin the selection."

After the draw with a Sweden team who are strongly fancied to advance alongside the Dutch to the quarter-final stage, the Netherlands play their next game against Portugal on Wednesday in Leigh, before returning to Bramall Lane next Sunday to tackle Switzerland.

Groenen plays club football for Manchester United, with the 27-year-old having played for the Women's Super League side since the 2019-20 season.

She became the team's first-ever overseas recruit, arriving following United's promotion to the English top flight.

Cofidis star rider Guillaume Martin had to abandon the Tour de France before Sunday's ninth stage of the race after a positive COVID-19 test.

The 29-year-old Frenchman had been hoping to improve on last year's overall eighth-placed finish.

He sat 14th overall, three minutes and two seconds behind yellow jersey holder Tadej Pogacar, after Saturday's stage from Dole to Lausanne, but tests since then have confirmed he has the coronavirus.

Cycling's governing body, the UCI, said Martin had been withdrawn "due to the application of the COVID-19 health protocol". There have been several such cases during this year's race, prompting the UCI to urge all participants to wear masks when not racing while also encouraging social distancing.

England wing Jonny May is set to miss Saturday's pivotal second Test against Australia in Brisbane as he makes a "graded return" from a coronavirus lay-off.

The 32-year-old Gloucester player has yet to return to full squad training after emerging from quarantine, and that means he is not expected to figure in Eddie Jones' selection for the weekend.

Defence coach Anthony Seibold said on Tuesday: "It was a long seven days for Jonny. He's been back on his feet today, running, but he didn't join in with the team. It will be a graded return to full training for him.

"We tried to include Jonny while he was in isolation, so sending him the team meetings, the backs meetings. We've used him as a really experienced Test player. We have a really young group in the backs, so he's been a bit of a resource for those guys."

May was absent as England loss the first Test 30-28 in Perth, where two late tries prevented the tourists incurring a heavier defeat. London Irish teenager Henry Arundell made a big impression off the bench as a wing and could come into contention to start in Brisbane, or Jones may elect to use him again as a high-impact replacement.

England will also be without flanker Tom Curry, due to concussion, and the Sale Sharks man will not feature in the third Test in Sydney either.

Seibold said potential replacements Lewis Ludlam, Sam Underhill and Jack Willis were "three really good guys".

Quoted on Skysports.com, Seibold added: "Lewis Ludlam came on and competed really strongly when Tom Curry came off on Saturday.

"He's been a great leader for Northampton this year and when he comes into camp you can certainly tell why he is the captain of his club.

"Jack Willis is really good over the ball and competes really strongly defensively, while Sam Underhill was one of the outstanding players at the 2019 World Cup.

"He missed out on selection for the first Test, but he’s competed really strongly to put himself in the frame for the second. So we've got some options there. Tom's a big part of our team so he'll be a loss, but it's an opportunity for somebody else."

Losing senior figures means a difficult task for England becomes even more complicated. Australia have won their last five Tests on home soil – their best-such run since 2008 – and five of their last eight when hosting European opposition.

Jasprit Bumrah will captain India in their rescheduled fifth Test with England following confirmation that Rohit Sharma will miss out with coronavirus.

Regular skipper Sharma tested positive for COVID-19 last Saturday, with Mayank Agarwal called up to the squad to provide cover.

Having again returned a positive test on Thursday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed Sharma will play no part at Edgbaston.

Bumrah will step up for his maiden stint as captain at any level, with Rishabh Pant as his deputy, and becomes the first fast bowler to lead India since Kapil Dev in 1987.

Virat Kohli skippered India in the first four Tests last year, with the final match being pushed back by nine months due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.

Rohit's absence will leave a huge void to be filled, the 35-year-old's 368 runs across the first four Tests bettered only by the 564 managed by England's Joe Root.

England have a coronavirus absentee of their own for the fifth Test, which India lead 2-1, as Ben Foakes has failed to recover in time for the start of play on Friday.

Sam Billings, who was called up to the squad during the final Test of England's 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand, will therefore keep his place behind the stumps.

James Anderson returns to the England team in place of Jamie Overton, meanwhile, despite the latter impressing against the Black Caps.

Wimbledon lost another seed to a positive COVID-19 test on Thursday as former semi-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut pulled out of the tournament.

The Spaniard, who lost in four sets to Novak Djokovic in their 2019 last-four tussle, announced his withdrawal as play got under way on day four at the All England Club.

Bautista Agut wrote on Twitter: "Today I notified @Wimbledon of my withdrawal. I have tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, the symptoms are not very serious, but I think it is the best decision. Thank you for your support. I hope to come back soon."

Now aged 34, Bautista Agut was the 17th seed at the championships and had been due to play Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan on Court Three on Thursday afternoon.

Galan receives a walkover into the third round as a result of Bautista Agut's announcement.

The loss of Bautista Agut follows the crushing blow of last year's runner-up Matteo Berrettini having to abandon his Wimbledon mission for the same reason.

Eighth seed Berrettini recently won at Queen's Club for the second straight year and was widely considered a credible challenger to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, but the Italian pulled out ahead of his first-round match on Tuesday.

Croatian Marin Cilic, a former US Open champion and Wimbledon runner-up, also withdrew from the tournament before his opening match after a recent positive test.

Joe Schmidt will help New Zealand prepare for the first Test against Ireland at Eden Park on Saturday after head coach Ian Foster and two of his assistants tested positive for COVID-19.

Foster and assistant coach John Plumtree tested positive for coronavirus at the weekend and Scott McLeod is the latest coach to contract the virus.

Former Ireland head coach Schmidt will work with the New Zealand squad this week in the absence of that trio.

Centres David Havili and Jack Goodhue have also tested positive for COVID-19, so Braydon Ennor has been called up to join the squad in Auckland.

Foster said: "Joe will come in for Tuesday and Thursday's training this week, and we're really grateful to have his help.

"We've planned for this kind of disruption and we've got back-up plans and people on standby.  Joe was one of those people we could call on."

Foster added: "I've got every confidence in our coaching group, and in our senior leaders who are all stepping up in what’s a massive test for us.

"Everyone has had to deal with these kinds of disruptions over the past couple of years. This is a real opportunity for the coaching group and team to pull together."

Rohit Sharma has tested positive for COVID-19, less than a week before India's rescheduled Test match against England.

The India captain had been taking part in his team's warm-up game against Leicestershire, scoring 25 in the first innings but not batting in the second.

However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed on Saturday that Rohit had tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation.

"Team India captain Mr Rohit Sharma has tested positive for COVID-19 following a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) conducted on Saturday," a statement read. 

"He is currently in isolation at the team hotel and is under the care of the BCCI Medical Team."

Rohit has averaged 30.00 from three Test innings in 2022, having averaged 47.68 from 21 innings last year.

The Test match with England, which gets underway at Edgbaston on Friday, is the rescheduled fifth Test from September 2021.

Ben Foakes has been withdrawn for the remainder of England's third Test against New Zealand after testing positive for COVID-19.

Wicketkeeper Foakes was not on the field at Headingley on Saturday due to back stiffness, with Jonny Bairstow taking over the gloves for New Zealand's second innings.

However, the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Sunday that while undergoing further medical assessment, Foakes had tested positive after administering a COVID-19 lateral flow test.

The 29-year-old has only recently returned to the England set-up, and has averaged 35.66 runs with the bat from five innings in the New Zealand series.

An ECB statement read: "Details of [Foakes'] return to the England set-up will be announced in due course. However, it is hoped he will be fit for the LV= Insurance Test against India starting next Friday at Edgbaston.

"Kent wicketkeeper/batter Sam Billings, subject to ICC approval, has been drafted in as a like-for-like COVID replacement and will go straight into the XI when the fourth day gets underway from 11.00am today. He will keep wicket. 

"The rest of the England party follows health protocols of symptom reporting and subsequent testing if required. There are no other positive cases in the camp."

England have already secured the three-Test series with New Zealand after winning the first two, and ended day three 137 runs behind with five more Black Caps wickets remaining.

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