Novak Djokovic: Ron DeSantis would ‘run a boat from the Bahamas’ to allow world No. 1 USA to play Miami Open

(CNN) The time may be up for Novak Djokovic to be admitted to the US to play Indian Wells, but US politicians – notably Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – are pushing for regulations to change and allow the world No. to enter the country in time. for the Miami Open.

The United States still requires international visitors to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and the Serb, who previously said he was still not vaccinated, confirmed that he had requested special permission to enter the country ahead of both tournaments.

However, Indian Wells organizers announcement on Sunday that Djokovic had withdrawn from the tournament, where the main draw began on Wednesday.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 run a Bahamas boat out here for him. One hundred percent I would,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Tampa on Wednesday.

“I think his people are looking at him, and I’m not sure that’s the way they want to come into the country, which I understand. I think it would be a great moment, but you know, nonetheless.”

According to the director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, proof of vaccination against Covid-19 is required for non-US citizens, non-immigrant passengers arriving from a foreign country in the United States by air, although that this applies to other forms of travel.

On Tuesday, DeSantis had asked US President Joe Biden to intervene and allow Djokovic to participate in the tournament.

“The only thing stopping Novak Djokovic from competing in the Miami Open tennis tournament is President Biden’s flawed and unscientific COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreign travelers,” DeSantis, who separately pledged to permanently ban coronavirus mitigation-related mandates as he considers a presidential bid, said on Twitter.

“Mr. President, lift your restrictions and let him compete,” he added.

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy.

Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida also urged the American president to allow Djokovic to play in the country.

“On a question regarding the vaccination requirement, I refer you to the CDC – they are the ones who take care of it,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday.

The vaccine requirement, she said, “is still in place, and we expect everyone to follow our country’s rule, whether as a participant or a spectator.”

US Open organizers said on Friday that they and the Tennis Association of the United States hoped Djokovic would succeed in his petition.

“Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players of all time and a six-time Miami Open champion,” the Miami Open tweeted Friday.

“We hope he will be allowed into the country so that Floridians have the opportunity to see him compete again.”

CNN has reached out to representatives for Djokovic and the US Department of Homeland Security for comment.

“Listen, last year I missed Indian Wells, Miami and all the US Open swing,” 22-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic told reporters in Belgrade last month.

“So it wouldn’t be the first time if that happened. I mean, I hope it doesn’t, but that’s all I can do. All I can do is It’s hopeful at the moment because, you know, my position remains the I can’t do much but wish for a positive outcome,” he said.

Djokovic returned to the world No.1 position when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record 10th Australian Open in January.

It was his 22nd major title, which tied him with Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam singles titles in men’s tennis history.

Miami Open Main Draw Begins March 22, Tournament Ends April 2.

Betsy Klein and Kit Maher contributed reporting

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