Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from two prestigious tennis competitions in the US as coronavirus rules prevent him from entering America.
The unvaccinated Serbian has pulled out of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and the Miami Open after the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) confirmed he needed to be jabbed to enter the country.
The 20-time grand slam winner revealed last month he had not received any coronavirus vaccinations, insisting he would forego big tournaments “because the principles of decision-making on my body are more important than any title or anything else”.
The world number two said on Instagram: “While I was automatically listed in the @bnpparibasopen and @miamiopen draw, I knew, given the entry requirements to the US, it would be unlikely I’d be able to travel there.
“But as international COVID regulations are always being amended, I wanted to wait and see if anything would change.
“The CDC confirmed today that regulations are not changing which means I will not be playing in the US.
“I know my fans are looking forward to seeing me play again and I hope to be back playing for them on the tour soon. Good luck to everyone who is playing in the US in these great tournaments.”
He has only been able to play in one tournament so far in 2022 because he is not vaccinated.
BNP Paribas Open said the next player in line to be seeded, Grigor Dimitrov, will move into Djokovic’s space in the draw, and a lucky loser from qualifying will move into Dimitrov’s space in the draw once qualifying is complete.
He said he had a medical exemption to enter the country to play in the tournament as he had recently recovered from COVID-19.
But the country’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, personally cancelled his visa, on the grounds that his presence could cause “civil unrest” and encourage anti-vaccine sentiment.
If he were to play and win the French Open and Wimbledon, starting in May and June, he would become statistically the greatest male tennis player of all time with 22 Grand Slam victories, overtaking Rafael Nadal, who has 21 after winning in Melbourne.
France is easing its vaccination rules later this month, which could pave the way for him to compete at this year’s French Open.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced last Thursday that people will no longer have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to access venues such as sports stadiums and restaurants as of 14 March.
Djokovic will be able to enter the UK to play at Wimbledon if he shows proof that he has tested negative for COVID-19.