NOVAK DJOKOVIC could face more difficulty entering tournaments unvaccinated after being kicked out of Australia last month.
Novak Djokovic could gain entry into this year’s French Open after a leading professor admitted the vaccine pass rules could come to an end before the tournament. Newly-introduced Covid pass regulations in France prevent anyone unjabbed from entering venues including sports arenas, with professionals and foreign nationals also subject to the rules. It threw the world No 1’s title defence into doubt after he was deported from Australia on the eve of the Aussie Open.
Djokovic is set to face difficulty entering tournaments this year if he remains unvaccinated.
The nine-time Australian Open champion found himself deported from the country the night before the tournament began after having his visa cancelled on the grounds that his presence could “incite anti-vax sentiment” as he arrived with a medical exemption granted by Tennis Australia, bypassing rules to be fully jabbed.
And it appeared as though the only Grand Slam he could compete in would be Wimbledon, with all foreign visitors to the United States required to be fully vaccinated.
France then introduced new Covid pass rules which would ban the world No 1 from competing in the French Open grounds
The rules banned any unvaccinated individual from entering venues including sports arenas, and Stanislas Guerin, who represents the 17th and 18th arrondissements in Paris, confirmed that Djokovic would not receive any special treatment to compete at Roland Garros in spring if he remains unvaccinated.
“We can’t have two weights and two measures regarding the Covid Pass. If you are called Djoko, Nadal or Mr Whoever, you respect the rules,” he said.
But now it seems the vaccine pass rules could be scrapped before the French Open even begins on May 22.
The head of France’s Covid strategy told the Senate on Wednesday that the pass could be dropped by “end of March, start of April”
Professor Alain Fischer told the Senate that the end of the pass “could come quite quickly”, according to The Connexion.
While nothing is set in stone, the head of Covid vaccine strategy in France said scrapping the Covid pass would depend on case rates and the pressure on hospitals.
He said the “incidence rate” – the number of cases per week per 100,000 people – had to be “at least ten times lower” than its current rate of 2,498.
While it’s a big drop, the average number of daily reported Covid cases in the country has already gone down by 28.6 per cent over the last week, while the number of new admissions to hospitals for Covid in France has fallen by three per cent in a week.
All attendees and ticket holders must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the tournament grounds, but it has not been confirmed whether these rules extend to players.
When the event was held in its postponed slot of October last year, unjabbed players were allowed to compete while fans had to be fully vaccinated.
The world No 1 will finally be starting his 2022 season at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, an ATP 500 event, kicking off on February 21.
Earlier this month, Djokovic’s biographer, Daniel Muksch, claimed the tennis star would get vaccinated after the Aussie Open debacle. “What you hear from his environment, I think he’s getting vaccinated,” Muksch said on ServusTV.
“Maybe the final in Melbourne also contributed to that. Rafael Nadal’s 21 is driving him, no question.”