Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in French Open

Under the new rules, athletes without a vaccine pass cannot compete in France.

January 17, 2022, 3:54 PM

PARIS -- Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic could be barred from competing in the French Open following the French Parliament’s adoption of a vaccine pass on Sunday.

Professional athletes, regardless of nationality, will now have to show their credentials and present a vaccine pass to access sports venues, France’s Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu told reporters on Monday.

Maracineanu had told French radio station France Info differently earlier this month, saying that athletes like Djokovic could benefit from exemptions "because the protocol, the health bubble of these major sporting events will allow it."

However, she said on Monday that the recent law to curb the spread of the new coronavirus passed by the French Parliament had changed the situation.

PHOTO: Champion Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy following his victory in the Men's Singles final match against Andy Murray in the French Open at Roland Garros on June 5, 2016, in Paris.
Champion Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy following his victory in the Men's Singles final match against Andy Murray in the French Open at Roland Garros on June 5, 2016, in Paris.
Rindoff Petroff/Hekimian/Getty Images, FILE

French lawmakers passed a controversial piece of legislation on Sunday that will require people 16 years and older to have a vaccine certificate to enter public places such as restaurants, cafés, bars and cinemas. The regulation will apply to sports venues as well, Maracineanu announced, saying she hoped for the French sports sector to become an "ambassador(s) of these measures on the international level."

Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, spent nearly a week in visa limbo in Australia, which has strict COVID-19 and vaccine rules for those entering the country. After a brief legal challenge, a judge ruled Djokovic had to leave the country.

The new vaccine pass regulation, which has not yet been promulgated, should come into force in the coming days.

Under these new regulations, athletes without a valid vaccine pass would not be allowed to compete French Open, which will be held in May in Paris.

PHOTO: Novak Djokovic arrives at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Serbia, Jan. 17, 2022, after the Australian Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic arrives at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Serbia, Jan. 17, 2022, after the Australian Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open.
Christopher Pike/Reuters

A prior COVID-19 infection could make someone eligible for a vaccine pass, but only under strict conditions that need to be specified in a decree that will accompany the law, a spokesperson at the French Sports Ministry told ABC News.

The details of the decree should be announced at the end of the week and will reveal how long after a positive test that one's infection can act as a vaccine pass under the new regulation.

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