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Novak Djokovic asks for permission to enter the U.S. despite being unvaccinated

The United States doesn't allow unvaccinated international travelers to enter the country, but the unvaccinated Djokovic wants in.

Novak Djokovic hasn't played in the United States since he lost in the 2021 U.S. Open final, and he'd like that to change.

Djokovic announced on Wednesday that he's asked U.S. authorities for special permission to enter the country to play Indian Wells and Miami over the next month. Since Djokovic is unvaccinated, he is currently not allowed to enter the U.S.

"Everything is currently in the process," Djokovic said at his training ground in Belgrade via the Associated Press. "I have a big desire to be there.

"I am really thankful to the Indian Wells and Miami tournament [officials] and community for their support publicly, and they would like me to be able to play in their tournaments."

Djokovic, the No. 1 men's tennis player in the world, is unvaccinated against COVID-19, which has affected his ability to compete over the past 15-plus months. He was deported from Australia in Jan. 2022 just before the Australian Open because of his continued choice to remain unvaccinated. Djokovic's longtime nemesis, Rafael Nadal, won the 2022 Australian Open. And since the U.S. does not allow unvaccinated international visitors to enter the country, Djokovic was also unable to compete in the 2022 U.S. Open.

Australia has loosened its vaccination restrictions on international travelers, so Djokovic was able to compete in the 2023 Australian Open in January. Despite 2022 being a very strange year competition wise, he hasn't appeared to lose a step. He slammed through the competition at the AO, winning his 10th trophy after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

According to the Associated Press, the Transportation Safety Administration doesn't plan to make any changes to the vaccine requirement for international travelers until at least April. With Indian Wells taking place in early March and the Miami Open taking place in late March, the only way Djokovic will be able to enter the U.S. and compete in those tournaments is with special permission.

While he waits for an answer from the American authorities, Djokovic said he plans to play in the Dubai Championships next week.

BELGRADE, SERBIA - FEBRUARY 22: Novak Djokovic smiles during the practice session at Novak Tennis Centre on February 22, 2023 in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic, who remains unvaccinated against COVID-19, has asked for special permission to enter the United States to play in two tennis tournaments in March. The U.S. currently doesn't allow unvaccinated international travelers to enter the country. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)