White House Shoots Down DeSantis’ Request To Let Novak Djokovic Play US Tournament

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Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
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The White House appeared to shoot down Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to allow tennis star Novak Djokovic to play in the Miami Open, despite his COVID-19 vaccination status.

The COVID-19 vaccination requirement “is still in place, and we expect everyone to abide by our country’s rule whether as a participant or a spectator,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday.

She also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is ultimately responsible for the decision.

DeSantis sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday demanding he lift the COVID-19 vaccination restriction banning Djokovic from competing in the March 19-April 2 Miami tennis tournament. Djokovic, who is Serbian, is currently ranked number one in the world for men’s singles.

“This denial is unfair, unscientific and unacceptable. I urge you to reconsider. It’s time to put pandemic politics aside and give the American people what they want — let him play,” DeSantis wrote, asking Biden to respond to his request by May 10. (RELATED: Novak Djokovic Pulls Out Of Indian Wells Tournament Over Vaccine Mandate, Biden Asked To Intervene)

The Biden administration is currently imposing a travel ban for travelers unvaccinated against COVID-19, but the restriction is expected to lift with the end of the COVID-19 emergency declaration on May 11.

The ban applies to unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens entering the country by air (as well as by land and sea ports of entry), DeSantis said in his letter. The governor, however, noted that it does not seem to apply to illegal immigrants coming across U.S. borders.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – MARCH 03: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand against Daniil Medvedev during their Men’s Semi-Final Single’s match on day thirteen of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on March 03, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

On Sunday, Djokovic withdrew from the Indian Wells tennis tournament held in California. Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott said Department of Homeland security officials had denied the tennis player’s request for a vaccination waiver, and sent a letter to Biden urging him to let Djokovic compete in the Miami Open.