Tennis has become a laughing stock as Serbia’s Novak Djokovic remains in the Indian Wells draw despite not being allowed into America.
Tennis has become a laughing stock as Novak Djokovic remains in the Indian Wells draw despite not being allowed into America because of his vaccination status.
Things have taken a bizarre turn with Djokovic, who was kicked out of Australia and missed the Australian Open because of his refusal to get vaccinated.
On Tuesday night many questioned why he was still on the Indian Wells entry list heading into today’s draw, then were given a shock when he wasn’t withdrawn.
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A brief statement from tournament organisers said officials were in contact with Djokovic’s team to determine whether he would play in California or even be allowed to enter the United States.
“Novak Djokovic is on the tournament entry list, and therefore is placed into the draw today,” the BNP Paribas Open wrote on its official Twitter page.
“We are currently in communication with his team; however, it has not been determined if he will participate in the event by getting CDC approval to enter the country.
“We will provide updates in the future as we learn more.”
The update comes despite a cut-out of Djokovic already being put on the tournament’s “we miss you” wall, which includes stars unable to play in the California desert.
Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg tweeted: “What a clusterf***”.
Djokovic is a five-time champion at Indian Wells, where organisers have said proof of full vaccination will be required for spectator entry into the grounds in the California desert.
Under US government regulations, all non-US citizen travellers entering the United States must be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Indian Wells is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the tennis calendar, and is often regarded as the unofficial “fifth grand slam”.
Last month, Djokovic claimed that if his involvement in future tournaments was contingent on being vaccinated, then “that is the price I’m willing to pay”.
“I understand and support fully the freedom to choose whether you want to get vaccinated or not,” he told the BBC. “I have not spoken about this before and I have not disclosed my medical record and my vaccination status because I had the right to keep that private and discrete. But as I see, there is a lot of wrong conclusions and assumptions out there and I think it’s important to speak up about that and justify certain things.
“I was never against vaccination. I understand globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing an end soon hopefully to this virus. And vaccination was probably the biggest effort that was made, probably half of the planet was vaccinated. And I fully respect that.
“But I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body. For me, that is essential. It is really the principle of understanding what is right and what is wrong for you, and me as an elite professional athlete, I have always carefully reviewed, assessed everything that comes in, from supplements, food, the water that I drink, sports drinks, anything that comes into my body as fuel. Based on all the information I got, I decided not to take the vaccine as of today.
“The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”
— with AFP