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Doubt over Djokovic participation in French Open

Paris, January 18

As Novak Djokovic flew home from Australia after being deported for not being vaccinated against Covid-19, doubts arose over whether the tennis star would be able to play in the French Open.

The current men’s number 1 player could be barred from the French tournament this year, under a new law intended to exclude the unvaccinated from stadiums and other public places.

French lawmaker Christophe Castaner said on Monday the new law will apply to anyone who wants to play in the French Open — a reversal of earlier plans to create a “bubble” around the tournament.

“The rules apply to everyone,” Castaner said.

“He has no vocation to play if he’s not vaccinated, if he’s not going to respect a rule that applies to spectators, the ball-boys or the professionals with shops at Roland Garros.”

Much could change between now and the start of the Grand Slam tournament in late May, but that raised the spectre that the saga in Australia would be not just a blip but an ongoing challenge for the tennis star, who is increasingly being held up as a hero by the anti-vaccine movement.

Some details of the law are still being hashed out — including how it will deal with people who have recently recovered from Covid-19, as Djokovic has.

The question is how recent the infection has to be to qualify for an exemption to vaccination rules.

France’s sports ministry said once the law is in place, there will be no exceptions until further notice. —AP

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