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Grand slammed: Why Aussie Open won't be only tennis major to ban no-vax Novak


Novak Djokovic could be barred from defending his title at the French Open as things stand after the French Sports Ministry declared there would be no exemption from France’s new vaccine pass law.

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World No.1 Djokovic, who has not been vaccinated against Covid-19, was deported from Australia on Sunday, unable to defend his title at the first grand slam tournament of the year after losing a court case to have the cancellation of his visa overturned.

The French Open is next on the grand slam calendar.

But France’s vaccine pass law, approved by parliament on Sunday, will require people to have a certificate of vaccination to enter public places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas and long-distance trains.

“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 said.

“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 favourable. So we’ll see, but clearly there’s no exemption.”

Serbian Djokovic, who was prevented from bidding to win a record 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open, has refused to vaccinate and was criticised for attending public events last month after testing positive for the coronavirus.

His Covid vaccine status could cause him more headaches in the future.

Saying he would take some time “to rest and to recuperate” Djokovic is unlikely to play the big ATP tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami in March because of the United States’ tight vaccine restrictions.

His participation in the Monaco Open in April, the first event of Europe’s clay-court swing, would also be in danger since the tournament actually takes place in France. The Monte Carlo Country Club is 150m outside the Principality in the French commune of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.

More long-term, Djokovic is in principle now barred from entry to Australia for three years having had his visa revoked.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison hinted there may be a way to let him in next year.

“There is the opportunity for (a person) to return in the right circumstances, and that will be considered at the time,” he told 2GB radio.

Rafael Nadal, the only player left in the draw to have previously won the men’s singles title, said, “I wish him all the best. I think the situation has been a mess.

“If the best players are on court and playing it is best for the sport. On a personal level I would like to see him playing here, if it is fair or not is another discussion.”

The debate over vaccine status at major tournaments has stirred controversy in the tennis world.

Nadal said that “the best players should be on the court”, while addressing media at Melbourne Park.

”That’s better for the sport, without a doubt, and if Novak Djokovic is playing here it is better for everybody,” he said.

The Spanish player has previously spoken in support of vaccinations but said the situation at the Australian Open with Djokovic had “been a mess”.

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