Novak Djokovic news: Confusion over 20-time Grand Slam winner’s hopes of playing in America

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic appeared to have given up hope of playing at the Indian Wells and Miami Masters events this month, but confusion has been sparked ahead of the draw for the first of those tournaments. 

Djokovic confirmed last month that he was not expecting to travel to America for the first two ATP 1000 events of 2022, with his refusal to accept a Covid-19 vaccination set to rule out any hopes he had of being allowed into America.

“As of today, not. I can’t go, can’t enter the United States,” he said in an interview. “As of today, I’m not able to play, but let’s see what happens. I mean, maybe things change in the next few weeks.”

US rules state that visitors need to be vaccinated to be granted entry into the country and while there are suggestions that they may be relaxed in the coming weeks, Djokovic’s hopes of getting into America this week seem forlorn.

In addition, Indian Wells chiefs have confirmed that everyone on site at their event will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

“In order to enter the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the 2022 BNP Paribas Open will require all attendees to show valid proof of full vaccination against COVID-19,” reads a statement on the tournament’s official website.

“To keep all patrons on-site as safe as possible, no exceptions to the vaccination policy will be allowed. All tournament volunteers, staff, sponsors, media, and vendors will be fully vaccinated in accordance with this policy.”

Yet the former world No 1 remains on the entry list for the 2022 BNP Paribas Open, with his expected removal from the entry list not yet confirmed.

In addition, João Sousa’s name has appeared on the qualifying draw for the Indian Wells event, even though the Portuguese player was expected to be granted access to the main draw as he is first in line to take Djokovic’s place if the Serbian is ruled out.

Djokovic’s image is included on a wall of ‘We Miss You’ players who are absent from the Indian Wells event, but there are exemptions that would allow Djokovic to enter.

His most likely route of appeal as it states on the official US website that “persons whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)”.

After he was deported from Australia on the grounds that his presence in the country would stir up anti-vaccine sentiment, it seems unlikely that the American authorities would grant him access to the country, yet his presence on the Indian Wells entry list confirms this story has yet to reach a conclusion.