The row over Novak Djokovic’s ban from the US Open has escalated after a Serbian group in America reportedly sent a letter to Joe Biden, calling for the world No 7 to be allowed into the country to compete. Unvaccinated travellers are currently banned from entering the United States, and with less than five weeks until the final Grand Slam of the year begins, Djokovic is still uncertain over whether he can compete.
Djokovic’s ban from the States has attracted attention in recent weeks, with several American political figures speaking out over the ban and pressuring Biden to let the three-time US Open champion into the country. And the President could now be forced to address the issue, with a lawyer-backed letter being sent to him with support from the Serbian-American Voting Alliance (SAVA), per Politika.
“The US Open is the biggest tennis tournament in the world, and it won’t be what it is without Novak Djokovic,” the letter read. “Considering the economic situation and the crisis at all levels, America must not allow the US Open not to take place in its full glory and capacity, which means the arrival of Novak Djokovic, who has been crowned three times at the US Open.”
The letter cited article 3(b) “national interest” of the presidential proclamation, which allows for some foreign nationals to be exempt from existing Covid restrictions if it is deemed in the national interest. And the letter, written with the help of one of SAVA’s lawyers Borko Komnenovic, attempts to prove Djokovic’s participation in the US Open would qualify.
“Novak does not pose any security threat, is one of the healthiest people in the world due to his disciplined life and serves as a role model and inspiration to millions around the world. It is in America’s interest that the biggest tournament in the world hosts the best player in the world, especially since he just won the seventh Wimbledon in London,” it continues.
SAVA president and founder, Dr. Olga Ravasi, also confirmed the group were in contact with members of Congress to further their argument. She said: “We are continuing the most important conversation and consultation with the Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney and her team, who strongly advocated contacting President Biden and proposing a possible procedure in Congress.
“A member of our SAVA organisation, lawyer Borko Komnenović, helps in this, supervising possible legal parameters. We are also in contact with Congressman Frank Mrvan, a democratic member of the Serbian caucus, in whose district there are a large number of Serbian-American voters, including Serbian Radio Chicago itself. It would be significant to have agreement from both parties on this issue.”
SAVA is a “non-partisan Political Action Committee” which aims to raise funds to financially support and elect federal candidates whose views support and align with the community of Serbian-Americans, and hopes to make Serbian voices heard and reflected in political decisions.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the rules will change in time for Djokovic to compete, but the Serb himself admitted he wasn’t holding out for a special exemption despite SAVA’s efforts. After winning Wimbledon earlier this month, he said: “ I don’t think exemption is realistically possible. If that is possibility, I don’t know what exemption would be about. I don’t know. I don’t have much answers there. I think it’s just whether or not they remove this in time for me to get to USA.”