The world’s top male tennis player, Novak Djokovic, will miss next week’s Miami Open, after being denied entry to the United States because he has not been vaccinated against Covid-19, tournament director James Blake announced on Friday.
The United States still requires international visitors to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and the Serbian, who previously confirmed he remains unvaccinated, applied for special permission to enter the country ahead of the tournament.
“We tried to allow Novak Djokovic to get an exemption, but it wasn’t possible,” Blake said in an interview with Tennis Channel.
“Obviously, we want to have the best players that can play, one of the biggest tournaments in the world. We have done everything we can. We have tried to talk to the government, but it is out of our hands.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said earlier this month that he would “run a boat from the Bahamas” for Djokovic at the Miami Open tennis tournament.
DeSantis has called on US President Joe Biden to drop the vaccine requirement for international travelers so the 22-time Grand Slam champion can compete.
Djokovic, 35, has missed several other tournaments due to his vaccination status. Earlier this month, Djokovic withdrew from the ongoing BNP Paribas Open after being denied an exemption at Indian Wells, California. Last year, he missed all the tournaments including Indian Wells, Miami Open and US Open Swing.
Miami Open main draw play begins on March 22 and the tournament ends on April 2.