Novak Djokovic
Wikimedia Commons/ Carine06

Djokovic withdraws from Indian Wells over vaccine status

Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. He had applied to the US government in February for special dispensation to play at this week’s event and the forthcoming Miami Open, but his withdrawal suggests his application has failed.

As it currently stands, the USA requires international visitors to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and proof of that status is required until 10 April at the earliest.

In January, the Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas said that it would be a “disgrace” if Djokovic was not allowed to compete this year.

Florida senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott wrote to President Joe Biden in support of an exemption, and the US Open and Miami Open organisations both posted statements on social media in support of Djokovic being allowed to compete in the country.

In late February, Djokovic said that his professional plans for the near future depend on what the US authorities decided: “My plans after Dubai depend on the US. I’m waiting for a reply, it’s not on me. I will know soon. Everything is in process. I’m thankful to the Indian Wells and Miami communities for their support. They would like me to be able to play in their tournaments. I’m looking forward to a positive decision coming soon, but it’s not in my hands.”

He has won the tournament five times in the past

It is now confirmed that he will not be attending the tournament, likely due to failing to secure the necessary documentation. He faced criticism last year after withdrawing from the tournament after the draw was made, so confirmed this year, he would pull out before the draw, if his application was not settled, or if he was not able to enter the country.

A statement from Indian Wells organisers, released on Sunday, simply read: “World No 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field.”

He has won the tournament five times in the past, most recently in 2016, but he will not compete for a sixth title this year.

The current US entry regulations are set to be lifted on 11 May, meaning it is possible that the 22-time Grand Slam singles champion will be able to compete in the US Open.

He was unable to attend last year’s US Open due to rules banning unvaccinated foreigners from entry into the USA, and he also missed out on the 2022 Australian Open.


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