Novak Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against Covid-19, has been denied entry to the United States to compete in the upcoming tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, Florida, Senator Rick Scott announced on social media.
Scott wrote that Homeland Security has rejected the world’s #1 immunization waiver request and is now asking President Joe Biden to intervene in the situation.
“Novak’s situation is obviously frustrating for us,” Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas told Matt Futterman of The New York Times.
“We want the best tennis player in the world to be here. H writes me he wants to be here. So of course you say, OK, let’s try to make that happen. How can we find out that this will be realistic? But at the end of the day, unfortunately, that is out of our hands and that is frustrating.”
Haas said Djokovic – who lost to Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals in Dubai on Friday – must retire by Sunday or a player 100 places lower will take his position in the draw.
John McEnroe said last month it would be “absurd” if Djokovic didn’t get an exemption to play in the US
“It would be absurd if he couldn’t play Indian Wells or Miami or any other tournament in the US,” McEnroe, the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and ESPN analyst, said on a conference call in response to a question from this reporter.
“It’s absurd that they kicked him out of Australia last year,” he added. “I got my vaccinations, I respect that he chose not to. I would have, but that’s another matter entirely… He played [the U.S. Open] 2021 and wasn’t allowed to play in 2022, someone explain that to me. And now he still can’t play, I mean it’s absurd.”
Patrick McEnroe, also an ESPN analyst and former US Davis Cup captain, said he hopes Djokovic will be allowed to play the “sunshine swing”.
“I hope he gets an exemption,” he said. “I hope he can come to the country to play. I mean, I’m not a doctor or an expert, but it seems like we’re through most of the pandemic, knock wood.
“He can go to any other country to play at this point and as far as I know that’s the president [Biden] has announced that many of these regulations will, I believe, be withdrawn in May. Whether Novak can get the exemption beforehand or not is in the stars.”
Djokovic won his record-breaking 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January and is now level with long-time rival Rafael Nadal, who will also miss Indian Wells and Miami with a leg injury. The two will each seek their 23rd major title at Roland Garros in May, provided Nadal is healthy enough to defend his title and aim for a 15th French Open crown.
“This is obviously a historic time in our sport, he at Rafa both at 22, it’s quite interesting if you ask me,” McEnroe said of Djokovic missing out on upcoming events. “So it would be a damn shame.”