Novak Djokovic Indian Wells tennis news: Star banned, withdraws over vaccination status

Former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has released a personal statement to accept his fate one day after he left the sport a laughing stock.

Novak Djokovic has been forced to withdraw from the Indian Wells ATP Tour event.

The Serbian left tennis a laughing stock when he was placed on the Indian Wells draw despite not being allowed into America because of his vaccination status.

Things took a bizarre turn this week, but the kerfuffle has ultimately come to a conclusion that everyone other than Djokovic could see coming.

On Tuesday night many questioned why he was still on the Indian Wells entry list heading into Wednesday’s draw, then were given a shock when he wasn’t withdrawn.

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It is only a full day later that the former World No. 1 accepted that he would not be able to compete in the tournament.

He released a statement on Thursday, saying: “While I was automatically listed in the @BNPPARIBASOPEN and @MiamiOpen draw I knew it would be unlikely I’d be able to travel.

“The CDC has confirmed that regulations won’t be changing so I won’t be able to play in the US. Good luck to those playing in these great tournaments. “

His late withdrawal means the draw has to be reworked with No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov being promoted to the No. 2 seed slot initially allocated to Djokovic. A lucky loser from qualifying will be named to take Dimitrov’s spot in the opening round of the tournament.

He has also withdrawn from the Miami Open.

Djokovic is now expected to target a return at the Monte Carlo Masters in April.

A brief statement from tournament organisers earlier said officials were in contact with Djokovic’s team to determine whether he would play in California or even be allowed to enter the United States.

The episode has left tennis looking beyond foolish.

“Novak Djokovic is on the tournament entry list, and therefore is placed into the draw today,” the BNP Paribas Open wrote on its official Twitter page.

“We are currently in communication with his team; however, it has not been determined if he will participate in the event by getting CDC approval to enter the country.

“We will provide updates in the future as we learn more.”

The update comes despite a cut-out of Djokovic already being put on the tournament’s “we miss you” wall, which includes stars unable to play in the California desert.

Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg tweeted: “What a clusterf ***”.

Djokovic is a five-time champion at Indian Wells, where organizers have said proof of full vaccination will be required for spectator entry into the grounds in the California desert.

Under US government regulations, all non-US citizen travelers entering the United States must be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Indian Wells is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the tennis calendar, and is often regarded as the unofficial “fifth grand slam”.

Last month, Djokovic claimed that if his involvement in future tournaments was contingent on being vaccinated, then “that is the price I’m willing to pay”.

– with AFP

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