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COVID ruling opens the French Open door to Djokovic

THE STRAITS TIMES – Novak Djokovic’s bet that countries would begin to relax their vaccination requirements in time for him to play major tennis tournaments has begun to pay off.

Officials in France announced on Thursday that the country would no longer require visitors to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter indoor establishments after March 14, most likely clearing the way for Djokovic, who was the world’s top-ranked tennis player until this week, to defend his championship at the French Open this spring.

A spokesman for the French Open said the tournament planned to follow government regulations in effect at the time of the tournament, which begins on May 22.

Djokovic, who confirmed this year that he had decided not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, was deported from Australia in January after immigration officials there ruled he was a danger to society because he could energise an anti-vaccination movement in that country.

Djokovic had received an exemption to enter Australia even though he was not vaccinated because he produced a test result showing he had recently recovered from COVID-19 in time for the Australian Open.

The exemption angered many Australians, who have dealt with some of the strictest pandemic restrictions in the world during the past two years. The deportation prevented Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, from defending his title.

Instead of receiving a vaccine so he could return to top-level tennis, Djokovic doubled down on his stance against vaccine mandates. In an interview with the BBC last month, the Serb argued that the decision to be vaccinated should be a personal choice.

Djokovic was deported from Australia in January because he was not vaccinated. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

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