A May 22, 2020 order issued by former Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf had established a "national interest exemption" under the Trump COVID-19 geographical proclamations covering China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, for "certain foreign professional athletes who compete in professional sporting events organized by certain leagues, including their essential staff and their dependents."
The order said that Wolf would "work with the professional sporting groups, including MLB, the NBA, the PGA Tour, the NHL, the ATP and the WTA,* to identify the specific athletes, essential staff, team and league leadership, spouses, and dependents covered by this exemption." * 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. Wolf justified his order on the basis of "the benefit live sporting events provide to the national economy," and the "intangible benefits to the national interest, including civic pride and national unity."
Note: It is unclear whether the March 2, 2021 DOS policy announced on the National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland page functionally rescinds former Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf's May 22, 2020 order.