World number one Novak Djokovic could be in grand slam exile as Wimbledon refuse to guarantee entry while the French and US Open ban unvaccinated players
Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic could be banned from upcoming Grand Slams after the French Open declared he needs to be vaccinated while Wimbledon remained coy over the prospect of the Serb defending his title.
The report comes amid news the French government have decided to ban those refusing to be vaccinated against Covid from the country’s stadiums.
Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open on nine occasions, was sensationally deported from Australia on Sunday following a dramatic saga between the world number one and the country’s national government.
He could be banned from re-entering for three years after his visa was cancelled.
The Serb’s refusal to receive the vaccine has triggered the controversy, and he faces the harrowing prospect of being barred from three of the four major tournaments.
Wimbledon provided no assurances that Djokovic will be allowed to play, even if unvaccinated sportspeople are able to compete and train in the UK.
The United States, meanwhile, have joined Australia in ensuring foreign visitors are vaccinated.
Djokovic, who arrived back home in Serbia on Monday, appeared to have received promising news when French and British governments confirmed they had no plans to ban unvaccinated sportspeople, paving the way for the 34-year-old to defend his titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
However, French sports minister Roxana Maracineau took to Twitter on Sunday to declare a ‘new vaccine pass’ initially limited to residents would apply to ‘foreign professionals’.
Christophe Castaner, head of French president Emmanuel Macron’s ruling LREM party group in the country’s National Assembly, said Djokovic defending his title at Roland Garros unvaccinated was ‘out of the question’.
“He can’t come if he doesn’t respect a rule that applies to spectators, ball boys and girls and people running boutiques at the French Open,” said Castaner.
“In what world would we be living if, just because you are a star, you can break the rules?”
France host Italy and Ireland in the Six Nations next month, while England travel to Paris for the final game in March, the same month Chelsea travel to Lille for the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie. If the ban is still in force, non-vaccinated players will not be allowed to compete.
While the UK Government’s position is yet to change, the All England Club was said to be prepared to go further than the law required when it came to its own Covid rules.
A total ban on unvaccinated players is ultimately unlikely but Djokovic could be subject to severe restrictions during the tournament.