Novak Djokovic withdraws from Miami Open as exemption for unvaccinated entry into the U.S. is denied

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18th March 2023 – (Miami) World number one Novak Djokovic has been forced to withdraw from the Miami Open after being denied an exemption to enter the United States without being vaccinated against COVID-19. Tournament director James Blake confirmed the news on Friday, expressing his disappointment at being unable to secure an exemption for the Serbian player.

“We did all that we could. We tried to talk to the government, but that’s out of our hands,” Blake told Tennis Channel. “Obviously, we’re one of the premier tournaments in the world, we’d like to have the best players that can play.”

Despite calls from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the state’s two U.S. senators to allow Djokovic to compete, the policy currently bars unvaccinated foreigners from entering the country. Djokovic, who missed last year’s Australian Open due to his vaccination status, has also been unable to participate in the ongoing Masters event in Indian Wells, California.

The Serbian player has made it clear that he would rather skip Grand Slams than receive a COVID shot. This decision has already impacted his participation in major tournaments, including the Miami Open, which he has won six times. The U.S. is expected to lift the policy barring unvaccinated foreigners from entry into the country when the government ends its COVID-19 emergency declarations on May 11.

With Djokovic’s absence from the Miami Open, fans will miss the opportunity to witness his exceptional performance on the court. Djokovic, who recently won his record-tying 22nd Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January, has not participated in the Sunshine Double since 2019. Despite his withdrawal, the Miami Open will continue with the participation of other top players, ensuring a thrilling and competitive tournament for fans.