Novak Djokovic given fresh hope he could play in Indian Wells and Miami
Novak Djokovic looks set to miss the Indian Wells and Miami ATP 1000 events next month, but the world No 1 has been given fresh hope that he may be allowed to travel to America.
The United States is insisting on all visitors show evidence of having a Covid-19 vaccine, with Djokovic one of the most prominent non-recipients of the jab in the world.
After being deported from Australia last year over his Covid status and a suggestion from government officials that his presence in the country was a threat to the nation’s wellbeing, he was allowed into Melbourne for last month’s Australian Open.
Djokovic’s victory in that event cemented his status as the world’s best player, he looks set to miss both of the opening Masters series events of 2023 due to America’s strict entrance rules.
“You know my position, so it is what it is. I’m hoping (to play), but if I can’t go, I can’t go,” he said in early January.
Indian Wells Open Tournament Director Tommy Haas also stated organisers were doing everything possible to help Djokovic to compete at the event.
“Obviously the one problem being that he still cannot come to the US as they’re supposed to lift those mandates by mid-April,” said Hass.
“It would be nice to see if we could maybe lift those a little earlier and have him come to play Indian Wells and Miami. I think he wants to play, so we should give him the chance. Hopefully we can have him there.
“I mean, it would be a disgrace in my eyes if he wasn’t coming to these events, or not allowed to come.”
However, United States President Joe Biden has confirmed that the current Covid-19 emergency declarations have been extended and will only be lifted on May 11.
Yet that position is being challenged by politicians in America, with Republican Thomas Massie introducing a the measure to rescind the vaccine requirement.
“The CDC’s unscientific mandate is separating too many people from their families and has been doing so for far too long. It needs to end,” he said.
I'm concerned about the families who've been separated by the COVID-19 vaccine mandate placed on international air visitors. In fact, the rest of the free world has already abandoned this unscientific policy. It’s time we join them. pic.twitter.com/MrLD4on0Do
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) February 7, 2023
Meanwhile, the U.S. Travel Associations stated that it has “long supported the removal of this requirement and see no reason to wait until the May expiration of the public health emergency – particularly as potential visitors are planning spring and summer travel.”
They also state that “the United States is the only country that still has this requirement for international visitors when there is no longer any public health justification”, as pressure mounts on President Biden to review the stance of his administration.
Biden has suggested the Covid-19 pandemic is at an end, but restrictions were retained at the back end of last year following a surge in cases in China.
As that outbreak has not led to a widespread rise in global cases, Djokovic may yet have hope that changes are made to US entry rules in time for him to take his place in the draw for the first ATP 1000 events of the 2023 season.
If he is blocked from playing, there is a good chance that Djokovic will lose the world No 1 ranking he reclaimed with his tenth Australian Open win last month.
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