20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic said Thursday that he cannot attend tournaments in Indian Wells in California and Miami because he is not vaccinated against Covid-19 and cannot travel to the United States.
Djokovic took to social media and said that the Centers for Disease Control “confirmed that the regulations will not change so I cannot play in the US”.
His name was included in the draw for the BNP Paribas Open in California on Tuesday, though his status was up in the air because the U.S. requires foreign visitors to get vaccinated to enter the country. In addition, the tournament previously announced that everyone on site in Indian Wells must be fully vaccinated.
Djokovic, who recently dropped to No. 2 in the ATP rankings, was expelled from Australia in early January for a vaccination order. Djokovic went through a legal battle after his visa was canceled on arrival in Melbourne, but he was eventually deported when his attempt to defend the Australian Open crown ended before the tournament even started.
Rafael Nadal eventually won the Australian Open for his 21st major trophy, breaking a tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer for the most claimed by a man in tennis history.
Djokovic has only competed in one tournament so far in 2022 due to his unvaccinated status.
“While I was automatically listed in the @BNPPARIBASOPEN and @MiamiOpen draws,” Djokovic wrote Wednesday, “I knew it would be unlikely that I would be able to travel.”
Indian Wells is underway this week; The Miami Open begins on March 21st. Both tournaments, known as the Sunshine Double, are Masters 1000 events.
“We understood from the start that Novak’s participation in the Miami Open was pivotal in his entry into the United States, which we knew would be a long road,” said James Blake, the tournament director in Miami.
“We have an incredibly broad and talented field of players and look forward to hosting a great event.”
While I was automatically included in the list @BNPPARIBASOPEN and @MiamiOpen Undecided, I knew it would be unlikely that I would be able to travel. The CDC has confirmed that the regulations will not change, so I cannot play in the US. Good luck to those who take part in these great tournaments
– Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) March 9, 2022
In February, Djokovic said in an interview that he would not get vaccinated even if he had to to compete in events like the French Open or Wimbledon.
On the last day of last month, Djokovic fell out of the No. 1 rankings for the first time in two years, slipping down to No. 2 behind Daniil Medvedev. Djokovic’s 361 total weeks at the top of the ATP is a record, as is his seven times when he finished a season at No. 1.
And on March 1, Djokovic announced that he and coach Marian Vajda were splitting up after 15 years together.
In his only tournament of the year, Djokovic lost to Jiri Vesely in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Championships. (With AP inputs).