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Novak Djokovic pulls out of Indian Wells tournament amid US visa row | Tennis News

The long wait for Novak Djokovic to get a COVID-19 vaccine waiver and US visa to play in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells ended in disappointment and frustration as he officially withdrew from the ATP tournament on Sunday.
“World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field,” read the statment from the tournament organisers.
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 U.S. 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.
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.
No one from Djokovic’s team was immediately available to comment on the withdrawal.
Last Friday, Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio wrote a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to grant the waiver request.
Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas, the United States Tennis Association and the U.S. 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 U.S. for last year’s U.S. Open, has said he would skip Grand Slams rather than have a COVID shot.
By winning the Australian Open earlier this year, Djokovic tied for world record 22 Grand Slam titles with Rafael Nadal.
(With agency inputs)



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