Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic, shown Aug. 31, 2021, at the U.S. Open, withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday. He also will miss the Miami Open. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
March 9 (UPI) -- Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic was forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday, saying he can't travel to the United States because of his COVID-19 vaccination status.
Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against the coronavirus, cited regulations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the reason for his withdrawal from the tournament. The U.S. requires foreign visitors to be vaccinated to enter the country.
The 34-year-old Djokovic also will miss the Miami Open, which begins later this month. Both tournaments are Masters 1000-level events.
"While I was automatically listed in the [BNP Paribas Open] and [the Miami Open], I knew it would be unlikely I'd be able to travel," Djokovic, the No. 2 seed in the BNP Paribas Open, wrote Wednesday on Twitter. "The CDC has confirmed that regulations won't be changing so I won't be able to play in the U.S."
The men's main draw at the BNP Paribas Open starts Thursday in Indian Wells, Calif. Djokovic was included in the draw during Tuesday's reveal, however, the tournament admitted at the time that it was uncertain whether he would participate.
Grigor Dimitrov, the No. 35-ranked player in the world, will now take Djokovic's spot in the field, and a lucky loser from qualifying will move into Dimitrov's original spot.
To this point, Djokovic has played in just one event in 2022 -- last month's tournament in Dubai. He was deported from Australia and withdrew from the 2022 Australian Open in January due to his vaccination status.
Novak Djokovic looks up and smiles after a long point while playing in the U.S. Open finals against Roger Federer in New York City on September 9, 2007. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo