Novak Djokovic: Ron DeSantis would ‘drive a boat from the Bahamas’ to bring world No. 1 to the US at Miami Open

(CNN) Time may be up for Novak Djokovic to be allowed entry into the US to play at Indian Wells, but US politicians – notably Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – are lobbying for the rules to be changed and the world’s No. to enter the country. 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However, the organizers of Indian Wells announced on Sunday that Djokovic had withdrawn from the tournament, where the main draw started on Wednesday.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 bring a boat from the Bahamas here for him. I would 100 percent,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Tampa on Wednesday.

“I think his people are looking at it, and I’m not sure they want to enter the country that way, which I understand. I think it would be a great moment, but still.’

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 separately vowed to permanently suspend mandates related to coronavirus mitigation. ban as he has a presidential offer, said on Twitter.

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

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy.

Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida also insisted the US president to let Djokovic into the country to play.

“As far as the vaccination requirement is concerned, I refer you to the CDC — they are the ones that deal with it,” 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 can enter the country so that the people of Florida 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,” 22-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic told reporters in Belgrade last month.

“So it wouldn’t be the first time if it happens. I mean I hope it doesn’t happen, but that’s all I can do. All I can do is hope right now because, you know, my position remains the same. There is not much I can do but wish for a positive result,” 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.

Betsy Klein and Kit Maher contributed reporting

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