Novak Djokovic is on the entry list for the BNP Paribas Open, raising fears of another Australian Open-style fiasco.
Djokovic had caused quite the stir due to his unvaccinated status ahead of the season-opening Grand Slam earlier this year.
And the Serbian top-ranked tennis player has put his name forward of the Indian Wells ATP 1000 tournament.
However, the tournament organisers have made it clear that only double-vaccinated players will be allowed in.
But it is worth noting there is a provision there for exceptions. Then again, a similar clause did not matter when it came to Djokovic in Australia.
“The BNP Paribas Open will require valid proof of full vaccination to enter the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the tournament.
“The guidelines for the players are governed by the protocols established by their respective governing bodies, the WTA and ATP, as well as any restrictions established by the United States of America in regard to the vaccination status of international travellers entering the country.
The exception rule comes from USA’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC). “You must be fully vaccinated with the primary series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine to travel to the United States by plane if you are a non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrant (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa). Only limited exceptions apply.”
Whether this would apply to the Serb is up for debate at this point.
Djokovic, who won three of four Grand Slams in 2021, was going for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the start of 2022.
But there were concerns over whether or not he would even be allowed into Australia. The country has strict border rules with regards to COVID-19.
And it was made clear before the event that only doubly vaccinated players would be allowed to play in the Grand Slam.
But the Serb announced ahead of the Slam that he got an exemption and would thus be part of the event. And it raised plenty of ire among the general public too.
Yet that was not the end of the matter. Djokovic would arrive in Australia and be denied entry. The reason? There were issues with his visa and an exemption would not do the trick.
In the end, his visa was cancelled and he took the issue to a court. Amazingly, the court ruled in favour of the Serb. The twist came when a top ranking Australian minister cancelled his visa anyway.
And that’s not all. His autobiographer Daniel Muksch said after the hard court Grand Slam that he could have a change of heart. “I think he is getting vaccinated,” he said.
But, as things stand, there has been no change to his vaccination status. Whether that happens before the clay court season remains to be seen.