Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday blasted President Joe Biden for a rule preventing tennis superstar Novak Djokovic from participating in the upcoming Miami Open tournament without a COVID-19 vaccination.
Under the current requirements, the Serbian is not permitted to enter the country without the inoculation.
Guidance issued by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. immigrants must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before flying into the country, with limited exceptions.
The rule is set to expire in May, when the COVID-19 emergency declaration ends.
The Homeland Security Department reportedly rejected a waiver request from Djokovic to participate in two U.S. tennis tournaments this month: the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, and the Miami Open.
In a letter to Biden, DeSantis said Djokovic’s presence would benefit both the Florida tournament, which starts March 19, and the wider tennis community.
“The only thing keeping Mr. Djokovic from participating in this tournament is your administration’s continued enforcement of a misguided, unscientific, and out-of-date COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreign guests seeking to visit our great country,” the governor wrote.
DeSantis, a likely 2024 GOP presidential candidate who once praised COVID-19 vaccines, has since turned into a skeptic, even calling for the prosecution of those promoting the lifesaving shots.
In January, he proposed permanently banning COVID-19 vaccination and mask mandates in his state.
The governor said Djokovic’s presence at the Miami tournament wouldn’t constitute a public health risk.
“It’s time to put pandemic politics aside and give the American people what they want—let him play,” DeSantis wrote.
He also asked Biden to confirm by Friday that the tennis player could instead take a trip to Florida by boat, arguing that the COVID-19 vaccination rule for non-U.S. citizens doesn’t explicitly cover that transportation method.
This is not the first time Djokovic has made headlines for his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The world’s No.1 player was deported from Australia early last year after he lost a court case to allow him to stay for the Australian Open despite not meeting the country’s vaccination requirement.