Novak Djokovic, one of the world’s most prominent sports stars who has fought off a coronavirus shot, was included in the field for this week’s Indian Wells tennis tournament in Southern California but said on Wednesday he could not travel to the United States and won not participate.
Djokovic was deported from Australia in January after immigration officials there ruled he posed a danger to society because they said he could spur the country’s anti-vaccination movement. He was unable to defend his Australian Open title, which he has won a record nine times.
Djokovic has expressed his reluctance to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying he is not convinced by the science. He said the issue is more important to him than adding it to the 20 Grand Slam tournaments he’s won.
Djokovic told Australian border officials in January that he was unvaccinated and has given no indication in recent interviews that his status has changed.
Djokovic was the tournament’s second seed. His name and picture appeared on a list of players in the main draw for the BNP Paribas Open, which begins Wednesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. While not ranked among the sport’s four major Grand Slams, the hard-court event is considered one of the greatest tournaments in the world.
In a tweet, Djokovic said the Centers for Disease Control and Protection had confirmed he was barred from entering the United States and would miss tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami.
Under US immigration law, non-citizens, including non-immigrants, must have full vaccinations and a negative coronavirus test to enter the country by air.
Djokovic spent two years as the game’s No. 1 until he slipped to No. 2 in February.
In his absence, Rafael Nadal won the Australian Open and overtook his rival as the men’s player with the most Grand Slam wins. Nadal is also listed among the players at Indian Wells, but not Roger Federer, who has also won 20 Grand Slam titles.
Last week, officials in France announced the country would no longer require visitors to prove a coronavirus vaccine to enter indoor facilities after March 14, most likely paving the way for Djokovic to win his championship at the French Open in to defend this spring.