Novak Djokovic has been officially denied a vaccine exemption for the Miami Open despite a push from some high-ranking political officials in Florida.
Tournament director James Blake confirmed the outcome Friday in an interview with Tennis Channel and expressed disappointment with the decision that will prevent Djokovic from trying to claim his seventh Miami Open title.
“Obviously, we’re one of the premier tournaments in the world,” Blake told Tennis Channel, according to Reuters. “We’d like to have the best players that can play. We did all that we could. We tried to talk to the government, but that’s out of our hands.”
Djokovic’s denial stemmed from the United States protocol that prevents unvaccinated travelers from entering the country, Reuters reported, and his representative declined any further comment about the absence.
The 35-year-old has been surrounded by vaccine controversies throughout the past 15 months, and the Miami Open won’t mark the first time Djokovic — currently No. 1 in the men’s ATP rankings — has missed a tournament due to his vaccination status.
Djokovic withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open, an event that started March 8 and runs through Sunday in Indian Wells, Ca., and he also didn’t participate in the 2022 Australian Open and U.S Open.
But in the weeks leading up to this year’s Miami Open, where the men’s singles begin March 22, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis publicly called on President Joe Biden to “lift your restrictions and let him compete.”
“The only thing keeping Novak Djokovic from participating in the Miami Open tennis tournament is President Biden’s misguided and unscientific COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreigner [sic] travelers,” DeSantis tweeted March 7, attaching images of his two-page letter.
Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also expressed support for Djokovic receiving the vaccine exemption, according to Reuters.
Djokovic, a Serbia native, regained his No. 1 ranking after claiming the Australian Open title in January, and it was later revealed that he played through a three-centimeter tear in his left hamstring.
In his most recent tournament, Djokovic fell to Daniil Medvedev in the Dubai Championships semifinals, suffering his first loss of 2023 after 15 consecutive victories.