Florida governor urges President Joe Biden to allow Novak Djokovic in US ahead of Indian Wells, Miami Open

“The time has come to give up the fiction that COVID vaccines remain a necessary tool to promote public health,” he said.

Novak Djokovic in a file photo. (image credits: twitter)
By Nilavro Ghosh | Mar 8, 2023 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is pleading with President Joe Biden to grant Novak Djokovic’s request and allow him to enter the country for a tournament in Miami despite his refusal to receive a coronavirus vaccination. The likely 2024 presidential candidate and Republican governor pleaded with Biden in a letter obtained to “let him play” in the Miami Open later this month. “It’s time to put pandemic politics aside and give the American people what they want,” DeSantis wrote in the letter, which was dated Tuesday. “The time has come to give up the fiction that COVID vaccines remain a necessary tool to promote public health,” he added.

Djokovic’s refusal to get vaccinated has resulted in a travel ban to the United States. All air travellers who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents must be fully immunised before entering the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following the official termination of the Covid public health emergency declaration on May 11, the White House announced last month that it would review the travel policy. The requirement for vaccinations is still in effect, at least through April 10, according to Transportation Security Administration guidelines.

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“The only thing keeping Mr. Djokovic from participating,” DeSantis wrote, “is your administration’s continued enforcement of a misguided, unscientific and out-of-date Covid-19 vaccination requirement for foreign guests seeking to visit our great country.”

What is the deal with Djokovic not being able to play in the US?

As a result of his ban from entering the nation, world number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from next week’s ATP/WTA Indian Wells Masters competition, organisers announced on Sunday. Djokovic had asked US authorities for a special permit to enter, but he is unable to do so because he lacks the Covid-19 vaccination. Next week sees the start of the ATP 1000 tournament in Indian Wells, California, and it is followed by the prestigious tournament in Miami, which Djokovic is now likely to skip barring a change of heart from US authorities. The Transportation Security Administration recently stated that the ban on international travellers who are not immunised from entering the country will not change until at least mid-April.

Djokovic was deported from Australia shortly before the 2022 Australian Open due to his vaccination status. Due to the travel restriction, he missed the US Open last year after winning Wimbledon. When he returned to Australia in January 2023, he won the Australian Open, securing a Grand Slam singles record-tying 22nd victory. In Dubai last week, he increased his winning streak to 20 games before losing to Daniil Medvedev on Friday. Nikoloz Basilashvili will take Djokovic’s place on the field, according to a brief statement. The US Tennis Association and the US Open’s organisers both expressed their support for Djokovic’s application to enter the country on Friday.

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