US exempts foreign athletes from bans

The United States will exempt some foreign athletes who compete in professional sporting events in the country from entry bans imposed because of the pandemic.

"In today's environment, Americans need their sports," Acting US Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said in a statement announcing he had signed an order for the exemption.

"It's time to reopen the economy and it's time we get our professional athletes back to work."

Besides the athletes, the exemption applies to the sporting leagues' essential staff, spouses and dependents, the statement said.

The sports covered by the exemption include 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.

Among other Australian sporting stars plying their trade in the US, this will clear the way for tennis's Ajla Tomljanovic who has been invited to join a 16-strong field to compete at a women's teams event in Charleston next month.

The Credit One Bank Invitational will be the largest event since the tennis season was derailed in mid-March by the COVID-19 crisis.

The tournament will be held without fans in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.