Novak Djokovic withdraws from Indian Wells ahead of draw after losing COVID-19 vaccine waiver
Novak Djokivic's bid for a waiver to enter the United States has failed.
The top tennis player in the world withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Sunday night, just days before it was set to begin in Southern California and hours before the tournament draw was released.
There was no reason given for Djokovic’s withdrawal.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open.
With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field.#TennisParadise pic.twitter.com/wUcBn5upc7
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 6, 2023
According to The Associated Press, however, Djokovic lost his bid to enter the United States as someone who is unvaccinated against COVID-19.
The news came just days after the US Open and the USTA threw their support behind Djokovic’s attempt at receiving special permission to enter the United States — something he is currently not allowed to do, as he is unvaccinated for COVID-19.
Djokovic’s saga against receiving the COVID-19 vaccine dates back to last January, when he was deported from Australia just before the Australian Open. Djokovic missed the US Open last year as well as several other events — including Indian Wells — in the last 15-plus months.
Australia has since loosened its COVID-19 vaccine restrictions on international travelers, which allowed Djokovic to both compete in and win the Australian Open earlier this year. The United States, however, still does not permit international travelers to enter the country without being vaccinated.
Djokovic said last month that he applied for a special waiver to enter in order to compete at Indian Wells and the Miami Open later this month.
“Everything is currently in the process,” Djokovic said last month. “I have a big desire to be there. I am really thankful to the Indian Wells and Miami tournament [officials] and community for their support publicly, and they would like me to be able to play in their tournaments.”
The United States is officially ending its COVID-19 emergency declaration in May, something that would allow Djokovic and other unvaccinated travelers to enter the country. If that happens, Djokovic would be allowed to play at the US Open this fall.
While the 22-time Grand Slam champion may get to the United States later this year, it appears he won't be playing at Indian Wells or Miami this spring after all.