Novak Djokovic’s bid to gain entry to the United States for ATP events at Indian Wells and Miami received support from the US Tennis Association and US law makers on Friday.
The Serbian star is currently barred from entering the United States because he is unvaccinated against Covid-19, but has petitioned US authorities for special permission to enter.
The US Open Twitter feed featured a post on Friday saying American tennis authorities hoped he would be allowed to enter.
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“Novak Djokovic is one the greatest champions our sport has ever seen,” the post read.
“The USTA and US Open are hopeful that Novak is successful in his petition to enter the country, and that the fans will be able to see him back in action at Indian Wells and Miami.” The Indian Wells ATP 1000 event begins next Wednesday in the California desert and is followed by the prestigious tournament in Miami.
The United States still doesn’t allow unvaccinated international travellers to enter the country, with the Transportation Security Administration recently indicating the policy would not change until at least mid-April.
Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday, urging the Biden administration to grant the 22-time Grand Slam champion a waiver to enter the US for the Miami Open later this month, despite his vaccine status.
“It has come to our attention that your administration is in receipt of a request to waive the current vaccine mandate for international travellers entering the United States from top-ranked men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic,” the letter began.
“We write to urge you to grant the requested waiver, which is necessary to allow Mr. Djokovic to compete in the Miami Open professional tennis tournament held in our home state of Florida beginning March 19, 2023.”
The letter cites the president’s remarks during a “60 Minutes” interview in September that the “pandemic is over” and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments on the efficacy of the vaccine as reason enough to grant Djokovic a waiver.
“Mr. Djokovic is a world-class athlete in peak physical condition who is not at high-risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
“It seems both illogical and misaligned with the opinions of your own administration to not grant him the waiver he requests so that he may travel to the US to compete in a professional event.”
It continued: “The lack of public health risk, along with the clear benefit of his participation in an event that will be a major driver for our local economies should make the decision before you simple and serve as a precedent for others in his position, while hopefully leading to the full reversal of this mandate for other foreign visitors who wish to legally travel to our great nation.”
Djokovic said in Dubai this week that he was still waiting to hear if the US would give him special permission to enter, telling reporters that he hoped to hear a decision before the Indian Wells draw is conducted on Monday.
“Whatever the decision is before the draw, if I’m not allowed, I’m going to pull out, of course, before the draw,” the world number one said.
Djokovic’s vaccination status saw him deported from Australia shortly before the 2022 Australian Open. After winning Wimbledon he also missed the US Open last year because of the travel restriction.
He returned to Australia in January, winning the 2023 Australian Open for a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam singles title.
He took his match win streak to 20 in Dubai this week before falling on Friday to Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals.
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