DeSantis Floats Using Loophole to Get No. 1 Tennis Player Novak Djokovic Into the United States

This week, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is a Republican, wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, requesting him to grant entry to Novak Djokovic, the number one ranked tennis player in the world, so that he could participate in a tournament taking place in Florida.

Despite suffering a hamstring injury earlier this year, Djokovic persevered and went on to win the Australian Open, which is the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.

According to a report by The New York Times, Djokovic's issues arose following the recovery of his hamstring injury when his team realized that the upcoming crucial tournaments were scheduled in the United States, a country that restricts the entry of unvaccinated foreigners. As Djokovic has not received the COVID vaccine, he faced difficulty in participating in these tournaments. The report also highlighted that some medical experts who advocate vaccination have concluded that these restrictions are no longer required.

Due to his unvaccinated status and the entry restrictions imposed by the United States, Djokovic had no choice but to withdraw from participating in two tournaments, one of which is currently taking place 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 tweeted. “Mr. President – lift your restrictions and let him compete.”

In his letter, Governor DeSantis criticized the Biden administration's decision to deny entry to Djokovic, stating that it was "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.”

Furthermore, Governor DeSantis proposed a potential workaround to bypass the Biden administration's regulations prohibiting unvaccinated foreign nationals from entering the United States.

“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 clarified in his letter that Biden's prior declarations only imposed limitations on foreign nationals arriving in the U.S. via 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 pointed out.

Moreover, DeSantis highlighted how the administration had violated its own guidelines by permitting "thousands of unvaccinated migrants to cross into our nation 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 pointed out. “I respectfully ask you to grant his requested exemption so that he may delight and inspire tennis fans in Florida and around the Nation.”

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