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Top-ranked Novak Djokovic withdraws from BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells after being denied entry into the US due to vaccination status
Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic withdraws from BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells after being denied entry into the US due to vaccination status

Novak Djokovic, prohibited from traveling to the United States over his COVID-19 vaccination status, has withdrawn from the 2023 Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, tournament organizers announced in a tweet Sunday night.

"World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field," organizers said, appending the hashtag #TennisParadise.

The Association of Tennis Professionals ranks Djokovic as the world's top men's tennis player.

Djokovic, who hails from Serbia and is reportedly unvaccinated, needs a COVID-19 vaccine waiver to enter the United States. He has tested positive for the virus in the past and has played in tournaments worldwide after testing positive in January 2022.

Djokovic's withdrawal suggests Florida Senators Rick Scott (R) and Marco Rubio (R) have not yet been unsuccessful in their appeal to President Biden to grant a vaccine waiver for Djokovic.

The senators' appeal to the president came in the form of a letter dated last Friday. In the letter, they cite both scientific and economic grounds for granting the request. Without the waiver, Djokovic will also be unable to compete in the Miami Open, which begins March 19.

The Department of Homeland Security received Djokovic's vaccine waiver request, according to the letter the senators sent to the president. Only "limited exceptions" apply to waiver requests, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

Legislation dismantling the requirement for international travelers to show proof of vaccine status prior to boarding flights to the United States has been advancing. HR 185, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) passed the House February 8.

Seven Democrats joined Republicans in voting to end the vaccine requirement for international travelers. Though the Biden administration dropped its requirement for international travelers to present a negative COVID test before flying, the vaccination requirements remain, Reuters reported.

"The need for this requirement has long since passed, and we appreciate the bipartisan action by the U.S. House to end this outdated policy. ... The U.S. is the only country that has maintained this policy," the The U.S. Travel Association told the outlet.

The United States will formally end its COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

For Djokovic, the official end of the emergency will arrive roughly two months too late.

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