Novak Djokovic has formally withdrawn from the draw for the Indian Wells tournament, in an indication that his application for a Covid-19 vaccine waiver to enter the US might have failed. The Serbian, who is one of the most high-profile athletes unvaccinated against the virus, applied to the US government last month for special permission to play at ATP Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami.
The US currently bars unvaccinated foreigners from entry into the country, a policy that is expected to be lifted when the government ends its Covid-19 emergency declarations on May 11. No one from Djokovic’s team was immediately available to comment on the withdrawal.
Djokovic has not competed at the back-to-back ATP Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami, two of the biggest tournaments on the ATP calendar and known as the “Sunshine Double”, since 2019.
Last Friday, Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio wrote a letter to US President Joe Biden urging him to grant the waiver request. Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas, the United States Tennis Association, and the US Open were among those also hoping the 22-time Grand Slam champion would be allowed to enter.
He would have been a heavy favorite to win his sixth Indian Wells title when the tournament kicks off in the Southern California desert on Wednesday.
Djokovic, who missed last year’s Australian Open due to his vaccination status and was not allowed into the US for last year’s US Open, has said he would skip Grand Slams rather than have a Covid shot. He won his record-tying 22nd major championships at the Australian Open in January.