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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis offers to ‘smuggle’ Novak Djokovic into Miami on boat

Only international visitors vaccinated against Covid-19 are currently allowed to come into the US and Djokovic has refused to have any of the available jabs.

Novak Djokovic will not compete in Indian Wells (Kamran Jebreili/AP)© Kamran Jebreili

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Novak Djokovic is missing this week’s Indian Wells Masters event, but he has been given fresh hope of getting into America to play in the Miami Open later this month.

Djokovic withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this week after failing to secure special permission to enter the United States.

Only international visitors vaccinated against Covid-19 are currently allowed to come into the US and Djokovic has refused to have any of the available jabs.

The restrictions are due to end next month, and Djokovic had hoped an exception would be made, but, with the tournament beginning on Wednesday, he was forced to admit defeat in his bid to secure an exemption.

A statement from the tournament read: “World number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field.”

It is the second year in a row Djokovic has missed the tournament, one of the biggest on the ATP Tour, and he is also set to sit out the Miami Open later this month.

The 35-year-old, who won a 22nd grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, had received backing from the US Open and United States Tennis Association.

World number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this week after failing to secure special permission to enter the United States. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire.© PA

A statement on the US Open Twitter feed read: “Novak Djokovic is one (of) the greatest champions our sport has ever seen.

“The USTA and US Open are hopeful that Novak is successful in his petition to enter the country, and that the fans will be able to see him back in action at Indian Wells and Miami.”

Now it has emerged Djokovic could be offer an unconventional route into America to play at the Miami Open.

Florida Governor and Presidential contender Ron DeSantis has stated he would be willing to “run” Novak Djokovic into his state on a boat from the Bahamas if necessary to get him at the Miami Open.

This could be a route that would allow Djokovic to enter America without showing his vaccination status, with DeSantis seemingly serious about his plan.

"I would run a boat from the Bahamas here for him. I would do that 100pc,” he claimed.

“But 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.”

DeSantis has already stated his support for Djokovic to play in Miami, with the Governor releasing a statement supporting the world No.1 last month.

"This denial is unfair, unscientific and unacceptable," DeSantis wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden.

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

Djokovic’s opposition to being vaccinated resulted in him missing six significant tournaments last season, including the Australian Open and US Open.


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