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Novak Djokovic to miss Miami Open over vaccine status

Novak Djokovic will miss next week’s Miami Open after being denied an exemption that would have allowed him to enter the U.S. despite not being vaccinated versus COVID-19, tournament director James Blake stated last Friday.

“We tried to get Novak Djokovic to be allowed to get an exemption, but that wasn’t able to happen,” Blake told Tennis Channel. “Obviously, we’re one of the premier tournaments in the world. We’d like to have the best players that can play. We did all that we could. We tried to talk to the government, but that’s out of our hands.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott were among those calling on the Biden administration to let Djokovic to enter the U.S. and compete at the tournament he has won six times, most recently in 2016.

Djokovic, 35, is also missing the ongoing Masters tournament in Indian Wells, California, due to his inability to secure the exemption.

The U.S. currently bars unvaccinated foreigners from entry into the country, a policy that is expected to be lifted when the government ends its COVID-19 emergency declarations May 11.

A U.S. Tennis Association spokesperson said Saturday that the group is “very hopeful” that Djokovic will be allowed into the country for the US Open, which begins Aug. 28.

“We are very hopeful that the policy preventing Novak Djokovic from entering the United States will be rescinded, or lapse, in the near future,” the USTA’s Chris Widmaier wrote to The Associated Press. “No COVID-19 restrictions are in place at the U.S. Open for any player, fan or other attendee. Novak, one of our sport’s great champions, would be welcome to compete at the 2023 U.S. Open.”

Djokovic, who missed last year’s Australian Open after being deported from that country because of his vaccination status, has said he would skip Grand Slams rather than receive a COVID-19 shot.

He won his record-tying 22nd Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January. He has not played at Indian Wells or the Miami Open since 2019.

A representative for Djokovic stated the player would make no further comment regarding his absence from the Miami tournament and that he planned to return to the tour at the Monte Carlo Masters clay-court event that starts April 9.

Djokovic will then continue his preparations for the French Open in May by playing in the Srpska Open in Banja Luka, Bosnia.

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