Djokovic's Vaccine Waiver Request Denied as He's Backed by USTA

Djokovic's Vaccine Waiver Request Denied as He's Backed by USTA

by Zachary Wimer

Last updated

Tennis fans all over the world are eagerly awaiting if Novak Djokovic will be allowed to compete at the upcoming 2023 BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells and 2023 Miami Open.

Senator Rick Scott and Senator Marco Rubio have officially asked the US President to waive the vaccination requirement for Serbia's top tennis player so that he can travel there to compete. The fact that two U.S. senators even filed a request on his behalf shows just how much support he has. Their letter to Joe Biden reads:

"Mr. Djokovic is a world-class athlete in peak physical condition who is not at high risk of severe complications from COVID-19. It seems both illogical and misaligned with the opinions of your own administration to not grant him the waiver he requests so that he may travel to the U.S. to compete in a professional event."

"The lack of public health risk, along with the clear benefit of his participation in an event that will be a major driver for our local economies should make the decision before you simple and serve as a precedent for others in his position."

Unfortunately, it looks like one of the sport's biggest stars may not be able to participate. According to Senator Rick Scott, Novak Djokovic has been denied a vaccine waiver request by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which makes him ineligible to enter the country and compete in the tournaments. Urging the President to lift allow him to compete, he wrote:

"We have been told that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security just denied Novak Djokovic's vaccine waiver request, making him ineligible to compete in the US next week in California & in the Miami Open. Joe Biden must fix this NOW, grant the waiver and allow him to compete here in the states."

While Djokovic may be disappointed by the denial of his waiver request, he can take comfort in the fact that the USTA is still rooting for him. In their statement, they made it clear that they believe he is one of the greatest champions the sport has ever seen, and they are hopeful that he will be able to play in the upcoming tournaments. The statement reads:

"Novak Djokovic is one [of] the greatest champions our sport has ever seen. The USTA and US Open are hopeful that Novak is successful in his petition to enter the country, and that the fans will be able to see him back in action at Indian Wells and Miami." 

Even the tournament director of the 2023 BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells, Tommy Haas told The New York Times that he wants Djokovic to compete at the tournament, saying:

"We want the best tennis player in the world to be here. He’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.” 

Of course, there is still a lot of uncertainty around whether Djokovic will be able to participate in Indian Wells and Miami. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to secure an exemption or find another way to enter the country. Previously, he confirmed that if he doesn't succeed in doing so, he will withdraw before the draw takes place.

That will happen in less than 60 hours and so the 22-time Grand Slam champion is fighting with time. Regardless of what happens, though, there's no doubt that tennis fans around the world will be watching closely to see what unfolds.


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