Djokovic could also be excluded from Roland-Garros

A French member of parliament, Christophe Castaner, said the new law would apply to anyone who wants to play Roland Garros – a reversal of earlier plans to create a “bubble” around the tournament.

“To do your job, come for pleasure or leisure, practice a sport, you will have to present a vaccine. This will be valid for people who reside in France but also for foreigners who come to our country for vacation or for a major sports competition, ”said Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu on BFM television on Monday.

Djokovic supporters outside Belgrade airport on Monday. Getty

But some details of the law are still being worked out – including how it will treat people who have recently recovered from COVID-19, as Djokovic says. The question is how recent the infection must be to qualify for an exemption from the vaccination rules.

Djokovic is also the defending champion at Wimbledon, which starts at the end of June. But so far England has allowed exemptions from various coronavirus regulations for visiting athletes, if they stay in their accommodation when not competing or training.

The US Tennis Association, which administers the US Open, said it would follow government rules regarding vaccination status.

It’s also unclear when Djokovic might return to Australia. Deportation can result in a three-year ban on returning to the country, although it can be lifted, depending on the circumstances.

For now, a warm welcome awaits Djokovic, who enjoys overwhelming support in his native Serbia, where his closest family lives. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the Australian government of “harassing” the top-ranked tennis star and urged him to return home.

“God bless you Novak,” read one of the banners held by fans at the airport as he was whisked through passport control and customs and then driven by his brother Djordje to his apartment. in Belgrade.

State-run Tanjug news agency reported that Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, said her son would stay in Belgrade for the next few days and not make statements to the media.

Djokovic’s Australian saga began when he was granted an exemption from strict vaccination rules by two medical panels and the tournament organizer in order to play at the Australian Open based on documents he provided showing that he had recently had COVID-19.

He received a visa to enter the country through an automated process. But when he arrived, border officials said the exemption was invalid and decided to deport him.

The initial news that the star had been granted the exemption has sparked anger in Australia, where strict city lockdowns and restrictions on international travel have been used to try to control the spread of coronavirus since the pandemic began. .

Over 95% of all top 100 tennis players in their respective tour rankings are vaccinated. At least two other men – American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert – skipped the Australian Open due to vaccine requirements.

Ultimately, Australian authorities revoked Djokovic’s visa, saying his presence could stoke anti-vaccine sentiment and that deporting him was necessary to keep Australians safe. He was sent off on Sunday, a day before the start of the tournament in Melbourne.

Djokovic has already won nine titles there. He had hoped this year to clinch his 21st Grand Slam singles trophy, breaking the record he shares with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in men’s tennis history. Federer isn’t playing while recovering from injury, but Nadal is competing.

As the legal battle unfolded in Australia, Djokovic admitted he attended an interview in Belgrade in December with reporters from The Team newspaper after testing positive for coronavirus. He later described this “error” in judgment.

When asked if Djokovic would face sanctions for flouting his isolation while infected upon his return to Serbia, Serbian officials said he would not because the country is not in a state of recovery. ’emergency.

Djokovic is a national hero in Serbia, whose president had called the court hearing in Australia “a farce with a lot of lies”.

“Novak, welcome home, you know that we are all supporting you here,” Belgrade resident Snezana Jankovic said. “They can take away your visa, but they can’t take away your Serbian pride.”


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