Novak Djokovic to miss Miami Open as US denies entry over covid vaccine
But Miami Open tournament director James Blake said while they tried to secure the 35-year-old Serbian star’s entry, “it couldn’t happen.”
“We organize one of the best tournaments in the world. We would like to have the best players who can play… And we have done everything we can, tried to talk to the government, but it is not up to us,” Blake told Tennis Channel on Friday.
“We would love to have him, and he’s our biggest champion. He’s won six times here… But unfortunately that’s way above my pay,” he added.
Novak Djokovic, after requesting vaccine exemption, withdraws from Indian Wells
Tournament officials in Indian Wells, Calif., also said Djokovic pulled out earlier this month.
Politicians including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) recently urged President Biden to exempt the top-ranked player so he can compete in the Miami Open, which runs from March 19 to April 2 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The two Republican senators from Florida had also asked Biden to accept the vaccine exemption request.
Still unvaccinated, Novak Djokovic seeks special US entry
Officials at the US Open, the country’s Grand Slam event, had expressed support for Djokovic, Tweeter that they had “the hope that Novak would be successful in his application to enter the country”.
The athlete’s unvaccinated status amid coronavirus restrictions prevented him from playing at last year’s US Open. He was kicked out of Australia in January last year in a saga that has divided his fans and critics as health officials globally pushed for vaccinations to combat the spread of the deadly virus. A mandatory vaccine requirement did not apply on entry to Britain, and Djokovic went on to successfully defend his men’s singles title at Wimbledon last July.
In interviews last year, Djokovic said he was not part of the anti-vaccine movement but supported freedom to choose.
Health officials say those who are vaccinated and boosted not only protect themselves against serious illnesses, but also help protect the most vulnerable, including the immunocompromised.
Des Bieler and Cindy Boren contributed to this report.