Final decision is made on Novak Djokovic’s bid to play in Miami

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic presser
Novak Djokovic press conference

It has been a running debate for several weeks, but it has now been confirmed that Novak Djokovic will not be taking part in the Miami Open that starts next week.

World number one Djokovic is not vaccinated against Covid-19, and currently only international visitors who are are allowed to enter the United States.

Those restrictions are due to end in April, and the Serbian had hoped to gain special permission to play in the US this month at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and the Miami Open.

He had to withdraw from the former having not been able to secure that dispensation, and Blake has now confirmed Djokovic has also failed in his bid to feature at the Miami tournament.

Tournament director James Blake has said in an interview with the 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. We tried, and he wasn’t able to play.

“Same result that he had in Indian Wells, where I know (fellow tournament director) Tommy Haas did as much as he could. We tried to get Novak Djokovic to be allowed to get an exemption, but that wasn’t able to happen.

“We’d love to have him, and he’s our greatest champion, he’s won six times here. Unfortunately, that’s way above my pay grade.”

Several high profile US politicians, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have made public pleas for Djokovic to be allowed to enter the country.

Yet the US government has shown little interest in granting the Serbian an exemption after he asked to be allowed to enter despite his vaccine status.

Predictably, Djokovic’s army of vocal backers on social media has reacted with anger to this latest development, yet this was the consequence of the world No 1’s decision to refuse a Covid vaccine in the height of the pandemic.

The good news for Djokovic must be that the Miami Open is likely to be the last tournament he misses due to this issue, with American authorities set to lift their vaccine requirements for foreign visitors in May.

Djokovic’s opposition to being vaccinated resulted in him missing six significant tournaments last season, including the Australian Open and US Open.

With vaccination against Covid-19 no longer required to enter Australia, he competed in this year’s Australian Open in January and claimed a 22nd grand slam single title.

The 35-year-old, who last week suffered a first defeat of the season to Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals of the ATP event in Dubai, is set to return to action on clay at the Monte Carlo Masters beginning on April 9.

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