PARIS, France: Under the latest COVID-19 rules adopted by the French government, leading tennis player Novak Djokovic could be allowed to defend his French Open title in May, despite being unvaccinated against Covid-19.
Earlier this month, Djokovic was deported from Australia and prevented from playing in the Australian Open for not meeting strict local COVID-19 vaccination rules.
Initially, it was thought he would not be allowed to play at Roland Garros under a new law that excludes unvaccinated people from entering stadiums, restaurants, bars and other public places.
French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu previously said, after the law was passed, that the country's vaccine pass would become compulsory to enter stadiums, theater or exhibitions, "for all spectators, practitioners, French or foreign professionals."
Under the law, which took effect on January 24, those who can prove they tested positive for COVID-19 within the past six months will be exempt from having to show a vaccine pass, meaning Djokovic could play in the French Open in May and June, as he claimed he tested positive in mid-December.
Since COVID-19 restrictions can change between now and May, French Open organizers previously said it is too early to comment.
France is registering Europe's highest-ever daily coronavirus infection numbers, but the government has imposed few other restrictions amidst the surge in the Omicron variant, focusing instead on the vaccine pass, approved by France's parliament and Constitutional Council last week.
Djokovic's Australian incident began when he was granted an exemption to strict local vaccination rules by two medical panels and the tournament organizer, based on documents he supplied showing he recently had contracted COVID-19. He then received a visa to enter the country, but when he arrived, border officials said the exemption was not valid and moved to deport him.
Australian authorities eventually revoked Djokovic's visa, stressing his presence could stir up anti-vaccine sentiment. He was deported a day before the Australian Open began in Melbourne.