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Novak Djokovic pulls out of Indian Wells on eve of draw

Novak Djokovic has formally withdrawn from the draw for the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, tournament officials stated Sunday, an indication that the world No. 1’s application for a COVID-19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“World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open.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 starts Wednesday at Indian Wells Tennis Garden and runs through March 19. The draw was 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 country 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.

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