Unvaccinated tennis star Djokovic is not allowed to enter the US without a medical exemption, and so will miss out on two upcoming big tournaments on the calendar
The Serbian’s name had been in the draw, even though it was not expected that he would be allowed to travel due to US rules around vaccination for foreign visitors.
Current travel rules meant that the unvaccinated world number two would not have been allowed to enter the country without a medical exemption.
BNP Paribas Open organisers confirmed his withdrawal in a statement on Wednesday night.
“Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open,” they wrote.
“As the next player in line to be seeded, Grigor Dimitrov will move into Djokovic’s space in the draw, and a Lucky Loser from qualifying will move into Dimitrov’s space in the draw once qualifying is complete.
Despite being aware that current travel rules would not permit him to travel, Djokovic waited until after the draw was made before pulling out.
Prominent tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg criticised the Serb for waiting so long to officially withdraw from the tournament.
“#2 Novak Djokovic waited until after the Indian Wells draw was made, but he has pulled out of Indian Wells and Miami,” he wrote on Twitter, adding: “This delay made for a deeply unnecessary 24 hours of reigniting this nonsense.”
Djokovic explained his decision by telling fans he had hoped the US government might change its rules at the last minute.
“While I was automatically listed in the @BNPPARIBASOPEN and @MiamiOpen draw I knew it would be unlikely I’d be able to travel,” he also wrote on social media.
“The CDC has confirmed that regulations won’t be changing so I won’t be able to play in the US. Good luck to those playing in these great tournaments.”
It is good news for Dimitrov, at least, as the world number 35 has moved into his place in the draw – giving him an easier route through the tournament on paper.
Andy Murray is another who might benefit, as the Scot was in Djokovic’s quarter of the draw and will not have to face the world number two.
Instead, Murray’s first round match will be against a qualifier, and victory would set up a clash with Alexander Bublik.