Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote a letter urging President Joe Biden to allow tennis superstar Novak Djokovic into the US to play in the upcoming Miami Open, who has been blocked from competing in the US because of the Biden administration's ongoing Covid-19 vaccine requirement for foreign travelers.
In the letter, DeSantis asked Biden to “put pandemic politics aside and give the American people what they want – let him play.” DeSantis called Djokovic’s denial to enter the US “unfair, unscientific and unacceptable.”
DeSantis speculated as to whether Djokovic could enter the US by boat because the travel restrictions only apply to air travel. “It is also not clear to me why, even by the terms of your own proclamation, Mr. Djokovic could not legally enter this county via boat,” DeSantis continued. “Please confirm no later than Friday, March 10, 2023, that this method of travel into Florida would be permissible.”
The Florida governor added, “Furthermore, even as you enacted a Proclamation on air travel that remains in force to this day, your administration pointedly allowed thousands of unvaccinated migrants to enter our country through the southern border.”
“In sum, the current ‘travel ban’ applied to Mr. Djokovic — and presumably millions of other potential unvaccinated foreign visitors — seems completely ungrounded in logic, common sense, or any genuine concern for the health and welfare of the American people.”
Djokovic was forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, after being denied entry to the US because of his COVID vaccine status. A vaccine waiver he requested would have allowed him to enter the US unvaccinated, but it was rejected by the Department of Homeland Security.
“The only thing keeping Mr. Djokovic from participating in this tournament is your administration’s continued enforcement of a misguided, unscientific, and out-of-date COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreign guests seeking to visit our great country,” DeSantis added. “American tennis legend John McEnroe recently termed this restriction ‘absurd.’ He was quite right to say so.”
DeSantis cited Biden’s declaration that the “pandemic is over” and that he “communicated to Congress that the COVID-19 emergency will formally end on May 11.”
In a joint letter, Republican Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio supported the Serbian tennis star’s participation in the tournament and asked Congress to eliminate Biden’s “bogus vaccine mandate.”
The pair wrote, “It has come to our attention that your administration is in receipt of a request to waive the current vaccine mandate for international travelers entering the United States from top-ranked men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic. We write to urge you to grant the requested waiver, which is necessary to allow Mr. Djokovic to compete in the Miami Open professional tennis tournament held in our home state of Florida beginning March 19, 2023.”
They also reminded Biden that he previously said the “pandemic was over.”
“In September 2022, you plainly declared to a national audience on ‘60 Minutes’ that ‘the [COVID-19] pandemic is over,’ and, earlier this year, Dr. Anthony Fauci published a professional article acknowledging the limited efficacy of vaccines in protecting against respiratory pathogens, like the novel coronavirus,” the senators continued.
“In light of these changing circumstances, and admissions by you and members of your own administration, the current restrictive vaccine mandate which you have maintained for international travelers entering the United States seems outdated and worthy of rescission.”
“Mr. Djokovic is a world-class athlete in peak physical condition who is not at high-risk of severe complications from COVID-19. It seems both illogical and misaligned with the opinions of your own administration to not grant him the waiver he requests so that he may travel to the U.S. to compete in a professional event.”
Djokovic last played in the states in the 2021 US Open, but in January, he was able to play in the Australian Open after being deported from the country in 2022 because of his vaccination status.