Florida Governor urges Biden to let Djokovic enter US

Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, has called on US President, Joe Biden, to allow Novak Djokovic to com­pete at this month’s Miami Open despite the world No 1 being unvaccinated for Covid-19.

Djokovic, one of the most high-profile athletes unvaccinat­ed against the virus, applied to the US government last month for special permission to play at ATP Masters events Indian Wells, which begins on Wednesday, and the March 19-April 2 Miami Open.

The Serbian, 35, formally withdrew from Indian Wells on Sunday. Florida Senator, Rick Scott, said that US officials had denied Djokovic’s request.

“This denial is unfair, unscien­tific and unacceptable,” DeSantis wrote in a letter to Biden on Tuesday.

“I urge you to reconsider. It’s time to put pandemic politics aside and give the American people what they want – let him play.”

Republican DeSantis signed a law in November 2021 banning schools, businesses and govern­ment entities from requiring vacci­nation against Covid-19, drawing condemnation from health experts and Democratic leaders.

The US currently bans unvac­cinated foreigners from entry into the country, a policy that is expect­ed to be lifted when the govern­ment ends its Covid-19 emergency declarations on May 11.

Djokovic, who missed last year’s Australian Open, after being deported from that country due to his vaccination status, has said he would skip Grand Slams rather than have a Covid shot.

He won his record-tying 22nd Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January. He has not played at Indian Wells or the Miami Open – which together comprise the “Sunshine Double” – since 2019.

 Last week, Scott and fellow Re­publican Senator, Marco Rubio, of Florida also wrote to Biden urging him to grant the waiver request.

Indian Wells tournament director, Tommy Haas, the United States Tennis Association, and the US Open were among those also hoping Djokovic would be allowed to enter.

“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from participating in this tournament is your administra­tion’s continued enforcement of a misguided, unscientific, and out-of-date Covid-19 vaccination require­ment for foreign guests,” DeSantis said. —Reuters

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