Novak Djokovic given green light to defend French Open title

Mar 17, 2022
Djokovic's surprise inclusion in the French Open comes despite his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Source: Getty Images.

Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has been given permission to compete in the French Open at Roland Garros in May despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19.

The announcement comes after France lifted Covid-19 restrictions, on March 14, which saw those who aren’t vaccinated banned from entering public places such as restaurants and sporting arenas, paving the way for Djokovic to defend his French Open title.

Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo confirmed Djokovic’s inclusion in the French Open, telling reporters on Wednesday, March 16 that “nothing stands in the way of Djokovic taking part in the French Open.”

In a recent interview with the BBC in February, the 20-time grand slam champion said missing major competitions, such as the French Open, over his vacciantion status, was “the price that [he is] willing to pay.”

“The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else,” he said.

Djokovic’s surprise inclusion in the French open comes after a tumultuous saga in Australia earlier this year when the tennis star’s visa was cancelled over his vaccination status which prevented him from competing in the Australian Open.

Djokovic’s visa was cancelled after arriving at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport at around 11:30 pm on Wednesday, January 5. Following a court battle on January 10, the tennis star won his battle to stay in Australia and had his visa cancellation overturned. Judge Anthony Kelly ordered the visa cancellation to be overturned claiming it “was unreasonable.”

Following the court’s decision, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time. Hawke said he was cancelling Djokovic’s visa, “on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.

Djokovic was spotted leaving Australia at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport at 10:30pm on Sunday, January 16 flanked by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers as he boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai.

Although things look hopeful that the 20-time grand slam winner will take the court at Roland Garros, French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton warned “there’s still a virus circulating” and if the government introduced new Covid-19 measures then the tournament “would not be excluded from these measures.”

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