Florida Senators Rick Scott, Marco Rubio Ask President Biden For Waiver To Allow Novak Djokovic To Play In Miami Open

Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio have co-signed a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to grant a waiver of the administration's COVID vaccine mandate for tennis star Novak Djokovic.

As it currently stands, Djokovic — who is unvaccinated — would not be permitted to travel to the United States to compete. This would count him out for several upcoming tournaments including the Miami Open later this month.

"It has come to our attention that your administration is in receipt of a request to waive the current vaccine mandate for international travelers entering the United States from top-ranked men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic," the letter reads. "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."

Last month, Djokovic applied for an exemption that would allow him to play at both the Miami Open and Indian Wells. The latter tournament starts in just a few days.

The two Republican senators cited Biden's appearance on 60 Minutes in September where he said the pandemic was over. They also noted an article penned by Dr. Anthony Fauci that discussed the "limited efficacy of vaccines in protecting against respiratory pathogens, like the novel coronavirus."

"In light of these changing circumstances, and admissions by you and members of your own administration, the current restrictive vaccine mandate which you have maintained for international travelers entering the United States seems outdated and worthy of rescission," the letter said.

Australia Let Djokovic Compete, Why Not The U.S.?

Scott is also co-sponsoring a bill aimed at ending COVID-19 vaccine mandates. That bill, the Fair Removal of Existing and Enforced Bans on Immunization Relating to Destination (FREEBIRD) Act, was written by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

"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 U.S. to compete in a professional event."

"Illogical" is a perfect word for the current situation. Djokovic is a little more than a month removed from a win at the Australian Open. In 2021, he was deported from Australia for not complying with their vaccine mandates. That country's government must have seen the evidence against such restrictions and allowed Djokovic to compete.

Both senators signed the letter which concluded by urging the president to approve a waiver for Sjokovic.

"We urge you to promptly grant Mr. Djokovic a waiver to the vaccine mandate for international visitors to enable him to compete in the Miami Open."

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Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.