Novak Djokovic: Indian Wells withdrawal and Covid vaccination status explained

The Australian Open champion will not feature at Indian Wells once again

World number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Indian Wells Masters event after it was confirmed he would be unable to enter the United States due to his vaccination status.

The 2023 Australian Open champion had applied for special permission to enter the US due to his lack of vaccination against Covid-19 and the US currently requires all international visitors to be vaccinated and proof will be required until at least the 10 April this year.

This is not the first time Djokovic has had to miss a tournament. The 35-year-old, who has won Indian Wells five times, missed last year’s US Open and infamously was deported from Australia ahead of the 2022 Australian Open due to the vaccination debacle.

The 2023 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells Masters, begins with the tournament proper on Wednesday 8 March and with Djokovic now out of the line-up, the Georgian tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field.

Here is all you need to know about what has been said...

What has been said?

Organisers released a statement on Twitter which said: “World number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field.” On Friday, the United States Tennis Association and the US Open said they were “hopeful” the world number one would be allowed to play this month’s Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1,000 events.

Djokovic has won Indian Wells five timesDjokovic has won Indian Wells five times
Djokovic has won Indian Wells five times

In a tweet, the US Open said: “Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest champions our sport has ever seen. The USTA and US Open are hopeful that Novak is successful in his petition to enter the country, and that the fans will be able to see him back in action at Indian Wells and Miami.”

Additionally, the Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas said back in January it would be a “disgrace” if the Serbian was not allowed to compete in the Us this year. Djokovic, who competed at the Dubai Tennis Championships last week, said: “If I’m not allowed I’m going to pull out, of course, before the draw.”

Why isn’t Novak Djokovic vaccinated?

In April 2020, Djokovic sparked widespread criticism when he spoke of his stance on vaccinations with former world number one Amelie Mauresmo.

He said he was “opposed to vaccination” and he “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.” Additionally, he added he was “curious about well-being and how we can empower our metabolism to be in the best shape to defend against impostors like Covid-19.” Djokovic also said that missing tournaments was “the price I am willing to pay” if it meant he would otherwise have to be vaccinated.

When is Indian Wells 2023?

The BNP Paribas Open will begin with the round of 128 on Wednesday 8 March 2023 and the winner will then play against those ranked within the top 32 in the round of 64. British stars Emma Raducanu, Andy Murray, Dan Evans and world number 11 Cameron Norrie will all be featuring in California.

2022 US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz will now be the top ranked male star at the competition, following Djokovic’s withdrawal. Alcaraz was forced to miss the Australian Open in January due to injury. Iga Swiatek will lead the way in the WTA tournament.

The tournament, which concludes on Sunday 19 March 2023, will be available to watch on Amazon Prime.