The world’s No. 1 men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic has applied for special permission to enter the United States in order to play in tournaments due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Djokovic is hoping to compete in March tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Miami, Florida, after playing in the Dubai Open next week.
“My plans after Dubai depend on the U.S. I’m waiting for a reply, it’s not on me… I will know soon,” Djokovic told reporters after practice in Belgrade, according to Reuters.
“Everything is in process. I’m thankful to the Indians Wells and Miami communities for their support. They would like me to be able to play in their tournaments… I’m looking forward to a positive decision coming soon, but it’s not in my hands.”
In January, the U.S. government extended the vaccine requirement for foreign air travelers until at least April 10.
Djokovic, who won the 2023 Australian Open in January for his 22nd Grand Slam title, was deported from Australia last year due to being unvaccinated.
He has previously stated that he would skip tournaments rather than receive the vaccine.
Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas said in January it would be a “disgrace” if Djokovic could not compete in the U.S. due to his vaccination status.
“Obviously the one problem being that he still cannot come to the U.S. If he doesn’t play Indian Wells and Miami in March (it will be tough), they’re supposed to lift those mandates by mid-April,” Haas told reporters, per Reuters.
“It would be nice to see if we could maybe lift those a little earlier and have him come to play Indian Wells and Miami. I think he wants to play, so we should give him the chance. Hopefully we can have him there,” he continued.
“I mean, it would be a disgrace in my eyes if he wasn’t coming to these events, or not allowed to come.”
The tournament in Indian Wells is scheduled for March 6-19 and the Miami Open will be played from March 20-April 2.