By Ivan Mwine
International tennis star Novak Djokovic could be facing more trouble at the next Grand Slam, after France insisted on a covid pass barring the unvaccinated from all sports arenas.
The French Open is the next Slam in the tennis calendar taking place in May and Djokovic was expected to participate without complication – but the new Covid Pass has changed that.
France’s lower house voted by 215 to 58 to give final approval to a vaccine pass that will exclude the unvaccinated from restaurants, sports arenas and other venues. It will apply to everybody over the age of 16 and the law will take effect shortly.
The decision however immediately throws Djokovic’s participation at Roland Garros into doubt.
Stanislas Guerin, who represents the 17th and 18th arrondissements in Paris, said: ‘Djokovic’s behaviour was irresponsible. Australia is a sovereign country which makes it rules and the rules should be respected.”
He added that; “We can’t have two weights and two measures regarding the Covid Pass. If you are called Djoko, Nadal or Mr Whoever, you respect the rules.”
He asserted that; “All the big events which will take place in France will adopt the Covid Pass. Who would understand if we asked our citizens to make an effort and respect the rules and we then authorised some to get out of them?”
The shocking news comes after Djokovic was deported from Australia following the cancellation of his visa by authorities in the country. He has been banned from the country for three years.
Djokovic left Australia late on Sunday night after 12 days of legal wrangling saw the tennis champion finally exhaust all options, with the full bench of the Federal Court siding with Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel the visa.
He was escorted to Melbourne Airport by police on Sunday evening and boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai, where he touched down on Monday, before he travelled back to Serbia, where he was picked up from the airport by his brother Djordje.
The Serbian broke his own silence on Sunday, telling reporters:
“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.”
He added that; “I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.”
The ATP spoke out at the decision, describing the situation as ‘regrettable’, but also took the opportunity to urge all players once more to get vaccinated.
“Today’s decision to uphold Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events,” the tennis body said in a statement.
It added: “Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport’s greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game.’
The ATP said it also ‘strongly recommend vaccination to all players.’
Meanwhile, fellow Serbian and Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has slammed the treatment of his fellow countryman.
Matic took to social media to say: ‘Your glory and their shame will last forever’.
His comment was accompanied by a photo of Djokovic winning the Australian Open.
Djokovic is the reigning champion at Roland Garros, having won the French Open title twice.
The 34-year-old is searching for a 21st Grand Slam title and the outright record of most titles. He is currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20.