Novak Djokovic was denied admission to the United States to compete in the Indian Wells event after failing to obtain special authorization to enter the country.
The Serbian, who is one of the most well-known athletes who has not been immunized against the virus, filed to the US authorities last month for a waiver to compete in the ATP Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion hoped to compete in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which begins on Monday, as well as the Miami Open.
Djokovic’s exclusion from a popular tournament has prompted controversy, with many calling the decision to exclude one of the greatest tennis players of all time “unacceptable” and others perplexed by the approach.
Comedian and talk-show host Bill Maher did not hold back in his criticism of his nation’s COVID rules.
‘He’s unvaccinated but he’s had COVID twice, natural immunity. Again something we always used to understand was like better than the actual vaccine. Somehow that got to be reversed,’ he said in a panel discussion.
‘The head of the Miami tournament, I read a quote and he’s trying to get Djokovic in. He said: “There doesn’t appear to be any imminent danger.”
‘Imminent danger? Of a man playing tennis? Of a man who’s had it twice? In a sport where you’re alone, in the middle of a stadium where you’re outside in a country where everyone’s already had it.
Djokovic’s vaccination status caused him to miss both the Australian Open and the US Open last year, as he was deported from the country.
With Covid-19 immunization no longer required to enter Australia, he successfully appealed a three-year restriction on obtaining for a visa and was able to compete in the Australian Open in January, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.