Some foreign professional athletes will be exempted from current coronavirus travel restrictions as part of the administration’s efforts to reopen the economy.
The exemption for athletes from China, Iran, the United Kingdom, and certain European countries, “is in the national interest,” according to an order Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf signed May 22. The exemption also will apply to the athlete’s professional staff, team and league leadership, spouses, and dependents.
“In today’s environment, Americans need their sports,” Wold said in a statement. “It’s time to reopen the economy and it’s time we get our professional athletes back to work.”
The move follows similar exceptions the administration has made for “essential workers"—including medical professionals and agricultural workers—in recent orders restricting travel between Canada and Mexico, and suspending green card applications from outside the U.S.
DHS said the agency will work with the professional sporting groups to identify the specific athletes, essential staff, and family covered by the new order, including Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour, the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, the National Hockey League, the Association of Tennis Professionals, and the Women’s Tennis Association.