Novak Djokovic Vaccine Status Prevents Another Major Tournament Appearance
On Sunday, tournament officials announced that tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has formally withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The news comes after Djokovic’s application for a COVID-19 vaccine waiver that would let him enter the U.S. unvaccinated was denied.
Speaking to reporters on Friday after his defeat in the semifinal of the Dubai Open, Djokovic commented on his pending request and status to compete at Indian Wells.
“Still waiting for the news from America," Djokovic said. “If there’s no America, I guess I’ll play clay. Monte Carlo is probably the next tournament. If that’s the case, I’ll take some time off, I’ll prepare.”
In 2022, fans may remember when Djokovic was similarly banned from playing at the Australian Open, after he failed to comply with Australia’s vaccine mandate.
Fast forward to this year, the Serbian phenom was granted access into Australia and would go on to beat Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas for his tenth Australian Open and 22nd Grand Slam title.
As countries like Australia and others have loosened their restrictions for international travelers, the U.S. remains a tough pass for athletes who are unvaccinated.
On Friday, Republican senator from Florida Rick Scott tweeted that Homeland Security rejected Djokovic's vaccine waiver request to enter the U.S. and would eliminate his chances to compete in the Miami Open that begins just two weeks after Indian Wells.
Scott, along with fellow Florida senator Marco Rubio, were in full support of Djokovic and wrote a letter to President Joe Biden encouraging him to grant the request.
Though Djokovic's status for future events is up in the air, the U.S. is set to end its COVID-19 emergency declaration on May 11, permitting foreign air travelers to enter the country unvaccinated.
The tournament is set to kick off Wednesday and tickets for the ATP Masters 1,000 event can be found here on the tournament's website.