Novak Djokovic ‘Denied’ U.S. Entry Ahead Of Indian Wells, Senator Says

Novak Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against Covid-19, has been denied entry to the United States to play the upcoming tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, Florida Senator Rick Scott announced on social media.

Scott wrote that Homeland Security turned down the world No. 1’s vaccine waiver request and is now asking that President Joe Biden intervene in the situation.

“Novak’s situation is obviously frustrating for us,” Tommy Haas, the Indian Wells tournament director, told Matt Futterman of The New York Times.

“We want the best tennis player in the world to be here. H’s writing me, he wants to be here. So of course, you’re like, OK, let’s try to make this happen. How can we figure this out that’s going to be realistic? But at the end of the day, unfortunately, that’s not in our hands and that’s what’s frustrating.”

Haas said Djokovic — who lost to Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals in Dubai on Friday — must withdraw by Sunday or a player 100 spots lower will end up taking his position in the draw.

John McEnroe said last month it would be “absurd” if Djokovic wasn’t granted an exemption to play in the U.S.

“It would be absurd if he couldn’t play Indian Wells or Miami or any other tournament in the U.S.,” 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 they threw him out of Australia last year,” he added. “I have had my vaccines, I respect that he’s chosen not to do it. I would’ve done it, but that’s a whole other issue….He played [the U.S. Open] in 2021 and then wasn’t allowed to play in 2022, someone explain that to me. And now he’s still not permitted to play, I mean it’s absurd.”

Patrick McEnroe, also an ESPN analyst and the former U.S. Davis Cup captain, said he hopes Djokovic is permitted to play the “Sunshine Swing.”

“I hope he does get an exemption,” he said. “I hope he can get into the country to play. I mean, I’m no doctor or no expert but it does seem like we’re past most of the pandemic, knock on wood.

“He’s able to go to any other country to play at this point and my understanding is that the President [Biden] has announced that many of these regulations will be withdrawn I believe in May. Whether or not Novak’s able to gt the exemption before that is up in the air.”

Djokovic won his record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January and is now tied with is longtime rival Rafael Nadal, who will also miss Indian Wells and Miami due to a leg injury. The two will each seek their 23rd major title at Roland Garros in May, providing Nadal is healthy enough to defend his title and seek a 15th French Open crown.

“This is a historic time in our sport obviously, him at Rafa both at 22, it’s pretty interesting, if you ask me,” McEnroe said of Djokovic missing the upcoming events. “So it would be a damn shame.”