Florida’s Senators Urge Biden to Waive Travel Vaccine Mandate to Let Novak Djokovic Play at Miami Open

At the end of last week, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., wrote to President Joe Biden requesting his approval for a waiver of the administration’s current international travel vaccine mandate for top-ranked men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic.

Approval of this waiver is required to allow Djokovic to compete in the Miami Open professional tennis tournament being held in Florida later this month.

This letter follows Scott’s recent cosponsorship of U.S. Sen. Mike Lee‘s, R-Utah, “Fair Removal of Existing and Enforced Bans on Immunization Relating to Destination (FREEBIRD) Act” to end the COVID-19 vaccine mandate placed on international air visitors to the United States. The United States is one of the only countries that still imposes this mandate.

The letter is below.

Dear President Biden:

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. 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.

In September 2022, you plainly declared to a national audience on 60 Minutes that “the [COVID-19] pandemic is over,” and, earlier this year, Dr. Anthony Fauci published a professional article acknowledging 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restrictive vaccine mandate which you have maintained for international travelers entering the United States seems outdated and worthy of rescission.

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. 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.

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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