Novak Djokovic was originally scheduled to be playing in both the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium, but due to covid travel restrictions by the United States he has been barred from participating in both tournaments. Until the Covid vaccine travel mandate is lifted by the federal government, Djokovic won’t be able to play tennis in the United States as he is not vaccinated.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, proof of Covid-19 vaccination is required for non-U.S. citizens, non-immigrant passengers arriving from a foreign country to the US by air.
The White House has actually responded to the issue, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying the vaccine travel mandate “is still in place, and we expect everyone to abide by our country’s rule, whether as a participant or spectator.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pushed back on the White House and Biden Administration mandate, claiming that he “would run a boat from the Bahamas here for him. I would do that a hundred percent,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Tampa Bay recently.
Such an act of defiance towards the biden administration would be nothing new for DeSantis, but this would be pretty next level. Desantis, however, admittedly said that it might not be the best idea for Djokovic to enter the United States via the Bahamas because Djokovic might endure bad press.
It is truly mind blowing that the federal government won’t make exceptions to covid travel restrictions for professional athletes. Djokovic cares about his health and body more than just about any athlete I can think of. Djokovic has even been noted to recover in a hyperbaric chamber that he brings with him to tournaments.
I find it admirable that Governor DeSantis addressed the issue and has even put pressure on the White House to make an exception for Djokovic specifically. Having Djokovic play in the Miami Open would have been a major pull for the tournament and would have given the city of Miami some extra international buzz.
Barring one of the healthiest humans currently gracing the face of the earth from entering the United states for the pure reason of not participating in the covid vaccination process seems backwards to me. While I understand the White House is trying to send a message to the world about where they stand on a public health crisis, the federal government is infringing on the ATP’s potential for profit, effectively hurting a portion of the sporting economy.
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