Djokovic May Lose Chance to Get Grand Slam Again as France Toughens COVID-19 Restrictions - Reports
The number 1 men's tennis player, who is a vocal opponent of vaccine mandates, was deported from Australia on Sunday, shortly before the Australian Open, after losing a court battle to have his visa rejection reversed.
In the third year of the pandemic, limitations on travelers who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are tightening, and some tournaments are reviewing exemptions, putting Novak Djokovic at risk of being kicked out of the French Roland Garros tournament as he pursues a record 21st Grand Slam victory, media reported on Monday.
According to France24, lawmakers in France approved new legislation on Sunday that will require proof of COVID-19 immunization to enter public venues such as restaurants and cafés, building on a previous regulation that required unvaccinated individuals to provide proof of a negative test result.
And on Monday, the French Sports Ministry supported the new law, according to a Reuters report, emphasizing that there would be no exceptions, which is apparently a point of contention for Djokovic, who had previously been granted a medical exemption due to a recent COVID-19 infection.
"This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson. And this until further notice," the ministry said, per the report.
Indeed, the new law might make things much more difficult for Djokovic if he stays unvaccinated ahead of the French Open, but the ministry acknowledged that policies could alter as the tournament approaches.
"As far as Roland Garros is concerned, it's in May. The situation may change between now and then and we hope it'll be more favorable. So we'll see but clearly, there's no exemption," it said.
Also today, the nation's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu reaffirmed the ministry's position, telling local BFM television that no one would be granted a medical exemption.
"To do your job, to come for pleasure or leisure, to practice a sport, it will be necessary to present a vaccine. This will be valid for people who live in France but also for foreigners who come to our country for vacation or for a major sports competition," she said per the translation.
Nevertheless, after the much-publicized drama that unfolded earlier this month and ended with the Djoker's deportation from Australia and a three-year visa ban, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison would not rule out the 34-year-old Serbian tennis star competing in the Australian Open tennis tournament next year.
According to reports, Djokovic's next competition is likely to be the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which will take place from February 21 to 26.