Novak Djokovic has formally withdrawn from the draw for the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, tournament officials said Sunday, an indication that the world No. 1’s application for a COVID-19 vaccine exemption to enter the United States may have failed.
Djokovic, who is from Serbia and unvaccinated against COVID-19, last month applied to the US government for special permission to play at the ATP Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami.
“World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field,” tournament organizers said in a statement.
Play in the combined ATP-WTA event begins on Wednesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and runs until March 19. The draw is on Monday.
On Friday, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wrote on Twitter that Homeland Security had denied Djokovic’s request for a vaccine exemption. Scott and fellow Florida senator Marco Rubio wrote a letter to US President Joe Biden urging him to grant the request.
The United States will end its COVID-19 emergency declaration on May 11, which will allow foreign air travelers to enter the county without being vaccinated.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion lost in the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday. He has not competed in back-to-back events at Indian Wells and Miami, two of the biggest tournaments on the ATP calendar, since 2019.
Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was included in this report.