Ron DeSantis would ‘run a boat from the Bahamas’ to allow Novak Djokovic into the US to play at Miami Open
The time may be over for Novak Djokovic to gain access to the US to play in Indian Wells, but US politicians – notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – lobbying to change the regulations and let the world number 1 enter the country in time for the Miami Open.
The US is still requiring international visitors to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and the Serb, who has previously said he is still unvaccinated, confirmed he applied for special permission to enter the country ahead of both tournaments.
However, the organizers of Indian Wells announced on Sunday that Djokovic had withdrawn from the tournament, where the main draw started on Wednesday.
DeSantis said he would “steer a boat from the Bahamas” for Djokovic to compete in the Miami Open tennis tournament later this month.
“I would have a boat from the Bahamas sail here for him. I would 100 percent do that,” DeSantis said Wednesday at a press conference in Tampa.
“I think his people are looking at it, and I’m not sure they want to come into the country like that, which I understand. I think it would be a great moment, but you know, right.
According to the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, proof of vaccination against Covid-19 is required for non-US citizens, non-immigrants coming to the US from abroad by air, although that applies to other forms of travel .
On Tuesday, DeSantis had called on US President Joe Biden to step in and allow Djokovic to participate in the tournament.
“The only thing stopping Novak Djokovic from participating in the Miami Open tennis tournament is President Biden’s misguided and unscientific vaccination requirement for foreign travelers,” said DeSantis, who has stated separately vowed to permanently ban mandates related to coronavirus containment as he considers a presidential bid, he said on Twitter.
Mr. President – lift your restrictions and let him join in,” he added.
Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida also insisted the US president to let Djokovic into the country to play.
“On the vaccination requirement, I refer you to the CDC — they are the ones who handle that,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.
The vaccination requirement, she said, “is still in effect and we expect everyone to abide by our country’s rules, whether participant or spectator.”
US Open organizers said on Friday they and the United States Tennis Association were “hopeful” that Djokovic was successful in his petition.
“Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players of all time and a six-time champion of the Miami Open,” the Miami Open said on Twitter on Friday.
“We hope he is allowed into the country so Floridians have a chance to see him compete again.”
CNN has reached out to representatives for Djokovic and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for comment.
“Look, last year I missed Indian Wells, Miami and the entire US Open swing,” says 22-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic. told reporters in Belgrade last month.
So it wouldn’t be the first time it happened. I mean, I hope not, but that’s all I can do. I can only hope at this point because, you know, my position remains the same. There’s not much I can do but wish for a positive outcome,” he said.
Djokovic returned to the world No. 1 ranking when he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record 10th Australian Open in January.
It was his 22nd major title, tying him with Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis history.
The main draw of the Miami Open starts on March 22 and the tournament has ended April 2.