New COVID-19 Rule in France ‘Would Clear Novak to Play at French Open’

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.
January 24, 2022Updated: January 24, 2022

Novak Djokovic may be able to play at the French Open later this year regardless of whether or not he is vaccinated against COVID-19, thanks to new rules that have been approved by the nation’s government, according to La Gazetta.

France’s vaccine pass law, approved by Parliament on Jan. 16, will require people to have a certificate of vaccination to enter public places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas.

The vaccine certificate will also be needed to take long-distance trains and domestic flights. The law will go into effect across France on Jan. 24.

However, the passport can also be used by individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered within the past six months, according to La Gazetta.

Since Djokovic tested positive for the virus on Dec. 17, this means he could potentially still travel to the county up until June without getting vaccinated, according to the report.

This would allow him to defend his title at the French Open, officially known as Roland-Garros, which is set to begin on May 22.

The Epoch Times has contacted the French Ministry for comment.

Gilles Moretton, president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), has previously said that the organization was working on welcoming “unvaccinated foreign athletes” ahead of the French Open.

“Our teams are working in collaboration with the public authorities, who will specify the rules relating to the reception of unvaccinated foreign athletes for our tournament in due course,” Moretton told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu also suggested earlier this month that a “health bubble” could be created that would allow unvaccinated players to play the Grand Slam tournament in Paris.

“There are health protocols imposed for major events by the relevant federations, which would permit someone like Novak Djokovic to enter the country,” Maracineanu told AFP on Jan. 7. “In France today we do not have the same regulations as Australia for entry to the country, either for athletes or any citizens from other countries.”

“An athlete who is unvaccinated can compete in an event because the protocol, the health bubble for these major events, permits that,” Maracineanu said.

However, the French ministry has insisted there will be no exemption to the vaccine pass law.

“The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is promulgated, in establishments that were already subject to the health pass,” the ministry stated. “This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson. And this until further notice.”

“Now, as far as Roland-Garros is concerned, it’s in May. The situation may change between now and then and we hope that it will be more favorable. So we’ll see, but clearly, there’s no exemption.”

Djokovic, who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, was deported from Australia on Jan. 16 before the first Grand Slam tournament of the year after having his visa canceled by Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Jan. 14.

The Serbian player and his lawyers had contended that he should be allowed to stay in the country and compete under a medical exemption from the vaccination because he had tested positive for the virus in December.

Ranked as the No. 1 men’s tennis player in the world, Djokovic subsequently lost his court battle to have the cancellation of his visa overturned and was forced to leave Australia.