Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a letter to President Joe Biden this week urging the president to allow Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked tennis player, entry into the United States so that he could compete in a tournament being held in Florida.
Djokovic played through a hamstring injury at the start of the year on his way to winning the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam event of the year.
The New York Times reported that his problems began after the injury healed as his team realized that the next two important events were in the U.S., which does not allow unvaccinated foreigners into the country. Djokovic is not vaccinated against COVID. The report noted that some pro-vaccination medical experts have concluded that the restriction is no longer necessary.
Djokovic was forced to withdraw from competing in the two tournaments, one of which is being held in Miami.
“The only thing keeping Novak Djokovic from participating in the Miami Open tennis tournament is President Biden’s misguided and unscientific COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreigner travelers,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter. “Mr. President – lift your restrictions and let him compete.”
The only thing keeping Novak Djokovic from participating in the Miami Open tennis tournament is President Biden’s misguided and unscientific COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreigner travelers.
Mr. President – lift your restrictions and let him compete. pic.twitter.com/fFyhNoUV4S
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 7, 2023
DeSantis’ letter called the Biden administration’s refusal to allow him into the country “unfair, unscientific and unacceptable.”
“While Mr. Djokovic is surely a supreme competitive threat to his fellow tennis professionals, his presence in our country poses no meaningful health or public safety risk,” DeSantis said. “I note that since the onset of COVID-19, Mr. Djokovic has visited the United States at least twice — including once during your presidency — without any apparent health incident.”
DeSantis then suggested that a loophole could be used to skirt the Biden administration’s restrictions for keeping unvaccinated foreign nationals out of the U.S.
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“It is also not clear to me why, even by the terms of your own proclamation, Mr. Djokovic could not legally enter this country via boat,” DeSantis wrote. “Please confirm no later than Friday, March 10, 2023, that this method of travel into Florida would be permissible.”
DeSantis explained in the letter that Biden’s previous proclamations only issued restrictions on foreign nationals entering the U.S. through air travel and at “land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders.”
“Your administration does not appear to have issued analogous restrictions for non-U.S. individuals seeking to enter our country by boat,” DeSantis noted.
DeSantis then pointed out how the administration flaunted its own rules to allow “thousands of unvaccinated migrants to enter our country through the southern border.”
“Mr. Djokovic is an extraordinary tennis player who should have every right to compete in this year’s Miami Open, which will commence on March 20,” DeSantis concluded. “I respectfully ask you to grant his requested exemption so that he may delight and inspire tennis fans in Florida and around the Nation.”