Djokovic pulls out of Indian Wells on eve of draw

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Novak Djokovic has formally withdrawn from the draw for the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, tournament officials said Sunday, an indication that the world No. 1’s application for a COVID-19 vaccine waiver to enter the U.S. might have failed.

Djokovic, who is from Serbia and unvaccinated against COVID-19, applied to the U.S. government last month for special permission to play at the ATP Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami.

“World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field,” tournament organizers said in a statement.

Play in the combined ATP-WTA event begins Wednesday at Indian Wells Tennis Garden and runs through March 19. The draw is Monday.

On Friday, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wrote on Twitter that Homeland Security had rejected Djokovic’s vaccine waiver request. Scott and fellow Florida Senator Marco Rubio wrote a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to grant the request.

The U.S. is ending its COVID-19 emergency declaration on May 11, which will allow foreign air travelers to enter the county without being vaccinated.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion lost in the semifinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday. He has not competed in the back-to-back events in Indian Wells and Miami, two of the biggest tournaments on the ATP calendar, since 2019.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was included in this report.

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