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U.S. government offers travel ban exemptions to international athletes

Players who are in the European Union’s Schengen Area, like Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, won’t have to face complications heading back to the United States for the NBA season.

Washington Wizards v Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic will be able to return to the United States without going through third countries and/or lengthy quarantines.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

In the first two months since the 2019-20 NBA season was suspended, there wasn’t just uncertainty about whether the season would start again. There was also uncertainty about whether non-American players could return to their home countries without facing quarantines or bans.

On May 22, the Department of Homeland Security issued an exemption that foreign athletes, including those in the NBA and the WNBA, will get assistance. Some players, like Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic went to the European Union’s Schengen Area after the season suspension. Without the exception, he would have been subject to a travel ban unless he went to a country not subject to the ban for at least 14 days.

The 2019-20 NBA season looks like it may resume sometime in July, perhaps in ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex in Florida.

The decision by the federal government is not unexpected. The American economy is starting to ramp up and sports are a big part of that. That said, the travel ban on non-Americans who were in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland (a EU country NOT in the Schengen Zone), China and Iran still apply.

Thankfully, with this news, we can start talking about games on the court without wondering whether some players can go home or not.