On Tuesday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reported that Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks announced that forward Davis Bertans currently has visa issues. These issues are preventing him from entering the United States for workouts which started yesterday. One more player on the current roster also tested positive for the coronavirus, though it is not Bertans or any player from last year’s roster.
Bertans’ visa issues aren’t anything to worry about, even in an era of international travel bans
In short, Bertans is likely banned (I’m still getting used to saying that word) from the United States until he gets an appropriate US work visa. It’s likely just a routine measure given that he signed a contract last month and Bertans’ work visa from last season ended simply because his contract did as well.
As for the travel ban, Bertans probably can’t enter the USA is because he is in Latvia, a member of the European Union’s Schengen Area, an open border zone that allows him to travel to other countries like Belgium, Germany, France, Italy or Spain without multiple checks.
Since March, non-Americans who were in the Schengen Area within 14 days of entering the USA are not allowed to enter for non-essential travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, though there are rumors that this may change soon.
Most citizens of countries in the Schengen Area, including Latvia, are also part of the USA’s Visa Waiver Program. So in a pre-coronavirus world or without the current ban, Bertans should at least be physically able to enter the USA because he is Latvian. But again, with the pandemic, we’re in an era where coronavirus transmission rates matter more than passports. Therefore, he’s not in D.C. yet.
It is important to note that the converse situation happens regularly. While Americans are also banned from non-essential travel to the Schengen Area, American athletes can still go to there for work purposes or in the national interest of an EU country. For example, Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud was in Italy briefly because she had the appropriate EU work visa. And the United States women’s national soccer team played a friendly against the Netherlands last Friday in Breda, a town close to the Belgian border.
Ultimately, we don’t have much to worry about here. Bertans should be here relatively soon once the visa goes through.
Who is the Wizards player with the coronavirus? What does it mean for the team?
In Hughes’ report, Brooks said that the player with the coronavirus wasn’t on the Wizards last season and may have “never been to Washington before.” It’s unclear which player it is, but Hughes believes it’s likely a rookie. I would tend to agree as well.
The Wizards currently have two players, this unnamed player and Thomas Bryant, who contracted it last summer. In the short term, this doesn’t mean much, but the team could be more vulnerable to a bigger outbreak once the regular season begins and as teams travel from one city to another.