Novak Djokovic has formally withdrawn from the draw for the Indian Wells tournament, organisers said on Sunday in an indication that the world No.1’s application for a Covid-19 vaccine waiver to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, appealed to the US government last month for special permission to play at ATP Masters events at 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“World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open.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,” organisers said in a statement late on Sunday.
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.
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 “SunshineDouble”, 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.