Novak Djokovic faces French Open exile under new rules requiring sportspeople to be vaccinated

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Novak Djokovic’s participation at the French Open was shrouded in uncertainty on Thursday amid new rules in France requiring sportspeople there to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

The world No 1 could learn this week whether he faces a repeat of his Australian Open nightmare at the second grand slam of the year after being denied entry to Australia over his vaccination status.

The French government announced last month that professional sportspeople in the country must be fully inoculated against Covid-19 from next weekend and that a decision on visiting stars would be taken in due course.

Reports in France this week suggested Djokovic and other non-residents would escape having to be jabbed to compete there, though as of Thursday night there was no official confirmation that would be the case or whether the unvaccinated would face having to quarantine before doing so.

Any kind of block on him entering half of this year’s grand slams could wreck Djokovic’s bid to win a record 21st major and finally move clear of arch-rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who are also stuck on 20.

Wimbledon may yet prove his salvation, with the Government on Thursday confirming it had no plans to scrap the elite sport exemption that would allow Djokovic to defend his crown regardless of his vaccination status.

There was also no sign of the US government following the lead of its Australian counterpart ahead of this year’s US Open.

Djokovic’s deportation from Australia was on Thursday delayed until at least Monday after he went to court to overturn the decision to throw him out of the country.

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