The world’s number one men’s tennis player was barred from defending his 2021 Australian Open title due to being unvaccinated, and there’s a chance he will not be allowed to defend his 2021 French Open championship as well.
On Sunday, Novak Djokovic lost his appeal to remain in Australia after his visa was canceled a second time on Friday due to his decision to remain unvaccinated. He was deported from the country later in the day.
Also on Sunday, France approved a vaccine pass law which will require proof of vaccination in order to enter public places. This includes Roland Garros, home of the French Open.
“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 French Sports Ministry said according to Reuters.
“This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson,” the ministry continued. “And this until further notice.”
The ministry said that while things could change between now and the start of the French Open, there would be “no exemptions” to the vaccine requirement.
“Now, as far as Roland Garros is concerned, it’s in May,” the ministry added. “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.”
The French Open will be played from May 22 to June 5.
Following the news that he had lost his visa appeal to remain in Australia and defend his 2021 Australian Open title, Djokovic said he was “uncomfortable” with all the attention focused on him over the past several weeks.
“I am extremely disappointed with the court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open,” Djokovic said in a statement.
“I respect the court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he continued. “I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love.”
The nine-time winner of the Australian Open first had his visa canceled on Thursday, January 6, by Australian authorities after he “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia.”
Djokovic arrived in Australia Wednesday, January 5, in order to participate in the 2022 Australian Open and, after a lengthy standoff with Australian officials, was told that he would not be allowed into the country. Djokovic’s medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine — which was granted by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government — was the reason for the standoff.
The Victorian government is a state-level authority.
“The visa for Novak Djokovic has been cancelled,” Australian Minister for Health Greg Hunt said Wednesday. “Obviously, that follows a review of the exemption which was provided by the Victorian government process. They were looking at the integrity and the evidence behind it.”
“It’s a matter to him whether he wishes to appeal that, but if a visa is canceled, someone will have to leave the country,” Hunt continued.
Djokovic’s lawyers challenged the decision by Australian authorities, and it emerged that Djokovic was granted the medical exemption due to recovering from COVID-19 in December 2021.
“Mr Djokovic had received, on 30 December 2021, a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording that he had been provided with a ‘Medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID,” according to documents published by Australia’s Federal Circuit Court on Saturday.
After winning the appeal, Djokovic appeared set to play in the tournament, but his visa was cancelled a second time on Friday, this time by Australian Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke.
“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” Hawke said in a statement.
“The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement continued.
As The Guardian reported, Hawke also discussed the potential for “civil unrest” in Australia due to Djokovic’s vaccination status.
“I consider that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest of the kind previously experienced in Australia with rallies and protests which may themselves be a source of community transmission,” Hawke said.
Djokovic arrived in his home country of Serbia on Monday.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].