Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in the French Open under current rules after the sports ministry said on Monday that elite sports people would need to be vaccinated to perform in France.
The ministry said a new vaccine pass, approved by the French parliament on Sunday, “applies to everyone, to volunteers and to elite sportspeople, including those coming from abroad, until further notice.”
The unvaccinated Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday before the Australian Open — the first Grand Slam tournament of the year — after failing in a court battle to have the cancellation of his visa overturned.
The French move appears to contradict Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu’s assertion last week that certain events like the French Open had a special exemption which could allow Djokovic to play in the tournament without being vaccinated against coronavirus.
Major events like the French Open previously permitted unvaccinated athletes to compete as they operated a health bubble around the tournament.
If no exemption is possible, the measure would dash the 34-year-old Serb’s hopes of defending his French Open title and potentially winning an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam singles crown.
Djokovic’s hopes of a Grand Slam success in 2022 would then rest on Wimbledon as New York vaccination rules, as they stand now, would rule him out of the US Open.
France’s vaccine pass law will require people to carry vaccination certificates to enter public places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas and intercity trains.
The first major international sports event to be directly affected would be the upcoming Six Nations rugby championship when France will host Italy on February 6, Ireland on February 12 and England on March 19.