(LifeSiteNews) — Barring an unexpected change in United States government policy, tennis star Novak Djokovic will have to miss two important tournaments in the country because of his COVID vaccination status.
The unvaccinated Serb is slated to miss out on both the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and the Miami Open in March and April, which are part of the ATP Tour Masters 1000 series of nine tournaments around the world.
Last week the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) quietly renewed an order that requires foreigners traveling to the U.S. to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The new order is set to expire on April 10 and applies to all foreign air carriers.
Djokovic, who is currently in Australia for the Adelaide International 1 tournament, told the media on Thursday that the situation “is what it is.”
“If it is official, then what can I do? Nothing,” he said. “That’s it. You know my position [on the COVID vaccine], so it is what it is.”
“I’m hoping [to travel to the U.S.], but if I can’t go, I can’t go.”
Last January, Djokovic was detained and subsequently deported from Australia after a tense legal battle over the status of his medical exemption visa. The country’s immigration minister at the time, Alex Hawke, cited Djokovic’s views on the COVID jab as the reason for his deportation, claiming they would discourage Australians from getting vaccinated and potentially foment “civil unrest.”
Six months later, however, the Australian government reopened the country to unvaccinated foreigners without the need to secure an exemption visa. Djokovic is thus set to compete in this year’s Australian Open, one of the four major Grand Slam tournaments, but could be forced to miss the U.S. Open for the second straight year if the travel ban is eventually extended through September.
Djokovic has previously said he has “no regrets” about refusing the COVID jab, even if it means missing crucial tournaments.