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He’s at risk: White House issue response to Novak Djokovic plea after offer of a ‘boat’ to bypass US ban



White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has issued a response to Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ plea to allow Novak Djokovic to compete at the Miami Masters after the Serbian tennis star withdrew from Indian Wells. Djokovic has not played in either Indian Wells or the Miami Masters – nicknamed the ‘Sunshine Double’ since 2019.

He also missed last year’s US Open due to Covid-19 restrictions on foreign visitors into the country. Those restrictions still haven’t been lifted with Djokovic being denied his request for special dispensation to play at Indian Wells this week.

The US Centres for Disease Control have indicated that the restrictions will not end before April at the earliest, putting Djokovic’s participation in Miami later this month also at risk. DeSantis has led the calls for Djokovic to be allowed to play at the Masters 1000 event, joking that he will offer the Serbian “a boat from the Bahamas”.

“I would run a boat from the Bahamas here for him. I would do that a hundred percent,” DeSantis said at a press conference on Wednesday. “I think his people are looking at it, and I’m not sure that’s the way they want to come into the country, which I understand.

“I think it’d be a great moment, but you know, nevertheless.” But the Joe Biden administration doesn’t appear willing to step in with the White House press secretary insisting the rules are in place for everybody.
“On a question of regarding the vaccination requirement, I’d refer you to the CDC,” Jean-Pierre said. “They’re the ones who deal with that.

“It’s still in place and we expect everyone to abide by our country’s rule, whether as a participant or as a spectator. As for what goes on for specifically with the BNP [Indian Wells], those are questions for them. They are a private entity so we will let them speak to that.”

Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, insists the world No 1 hasn’t given up on his hopes to play in Miami. “They didn’t give up on Miami. It’s in his head, he wants to play,” he said.

“I would like them to release him, it would be good for him and for tennis, but it’s not the end of the world if they don’t release him. The main thing is that we will know quickly, so that we can make a plan.

“Technically, I don’t know how it is the best solution for preparation on clay, although he won Monte Carlo when he played in Indian Wells and Miami. Everything depends on Novak, if he is ready in his head and if he is in fighter mode, like in Australia, then everything is possible.”

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