Unvaccinated World No. 1 Pulls Out of US Tourneys

Djokovic is denied travel exception, but US Open has hope he'll play in August
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2023 3:20 PM CDT
Unvaccinated World No. 1 Pulls Out of US Tourneys
Serbia's Novak Djokovic looks up during the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on March 1.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

The top-ranked tennis player in the world has given up hope on being allowed to enter the US soon, withdrawing from two tournaments. Novak Djokovic, 35, has not received a COVID-19 vaccination. So under US policy, he cannot compete in a tournament going on now in Indian Wells, California, or the Miami Open, which begins next week, per ESPN. The director of the Miami Open said attempts to win an exception failed. "We tried to talk to the government, but that's out of our hands," James Blake said. Florida's governor and two US senators also urged the Biden administration to admit Djokovic.

On the other hand, a spokesman for the US Tennis Association said Saturday it hasn't given up on Djokovic playing in the US Open, which starts Aug. 28 in New York. "Policies concerning access to the United States are determined by the White House," Chris Widmaier wrote to the AP. "We are very hopeful that the policy preventing Novak Djokovic from entering the United States will be rescinded, or lapse, in the near future." Djokovic has said he'd skip major tournaments rather than be vaccinated, but he sought an exception for last year's Australian Open, per the Hill. He was deported from Australia after losing in court. The country has loosened its pandemic rules since then, and Djokovic won this year's Open. (More Novak Djokovic stories.)

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