Djokovic title race ruined by fresh blow

The Australian Open may not be the only Novak Djokovic-less event in 2022 after a contradiction limited his options for a 21st grand slam.

All athletes who wish to compete in France will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19, government sources told AFP on Monday.

This appears to contradict what Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said last week, that certain events like the French Open had a special exemption, when asked whether Novak Djokovic could play in the tournament.

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For ordinary citizens entering France it is not obligatory to be vaccinated but will be for those wishing to enter an establishment which has a public attendance (ERP).

Major events like the French Open previously permitted non vaccinated athletes to compete as they operated a health bubble round the tournament.

“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.”

It comes after Maracineanu told radio station France Info that Djokovic would be able to come in as it was a major event.

“There are health protocols imposed for major events by the relevant federations which would permit someone like Novak Djokovic to enter the country,” Ms Maracineanu said.

“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,” Ms Maracineanu added that she hoped the situation would be clearer by May, when the French Open is scheduled to get underway.

“We hope there will be no need for such measures by then.”

The French Open isn’t set to be held until May 23-June 5.

The first major event to be directly affected would be the upcoming Six Nations rugby championship when France will host Italy (Feb 6), Ireland (Feb 12) and England (March 19).

This measure would dash 34-year-old Djokovic’s hopes of defending the title and potentially an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam singles crown.

Rafael Nadal could move one ahead of him and Roger Federer if he wins the Australian Open.

Djokovic’s dreams of playing in it were dashed on Sunday when he was deported from Australia over his coronavirus vaccination status.

Djokovic’s hopes of a Grand Slam success in 2022 would then rest on Wimbledon as New York vaccination rules would rule him out of the US Open.

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