Governor of Florida makes Novak Djokovic appeal ahead of Miami Open

Governor of Florida makes Novak Djokovic appeal ahead of Miami Open

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has made a direct appeal to US President Joe Biden to allow Novak Djokovic to compete at this month’s Miami Open.

Djokovic, one of the most high-profile athletes unvaccinated against Covid-19, applied to the US government last month for special permission to play at the prestigious ATP Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami.

But the 22-time grand slam champion’s bid was rejected and the Serbian was forced to withdraw from Indian Wells on Sunday.

There are a further two weeks to go until the start of the Miami Open and DeSantis urged Biden and US officials to reconsider their decision ahead of the tournament. The US is not expected to lift restrictions banning unvaccinated foreigners from entering the country until at least May.

Republican DeSantis signed a law in November 2021 banning schools, businesses and government entities from requiring vaccination against Covid-19, drawing condemnation from health experts and Democratic leaders.

"This denial is unfair, unscientific and unacceptable," DeSantis wrote in a letter to Biden on Tuesday.

"I urge you to reconsider. It’s time to put pandemic politics aside and give the American people what they want - let him play.

"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from participating in this tournament is your administration’s continued enforcement of a misguided, unscientific, and out-of-date Covid-19 vaccination requirement for foreign guests.

Florida senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott also wrote to Biden urging him to grant Djokovic’s waiver request, while Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas, the United States Tennis Association and the U.S. Open were among those also hoping Djokovic would be allowed to enter.

Djokovic, who missed last year’s Australian Open after being deported from that country due to his vaccination status, has said he would skip grand slams rather than have a Covid shot.

Includes reporting from Reuters