Djokovic could be barred from Roland Garros as France insists no unvaccinated in stadiums

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France says even international athletes will must adhere to the new vaccine pass law that requires people to prove they have a Covid vaccine in order to enter public places, including sports stadiums.

France’s policy could mean Djokovic could be blocked from playing in this year’s French Open.

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said Monday in a Tweet that the new vaccine pass applies to everyone entering a stadium, including "all spectators, players, French or foreign professionals".

The sports ministry said in a statement that for the French Open, also known as Roland Garros, the situation may change before the start of the tournament in May, “but clearly there is no exemption".

This appears to contradict what Maracineanu said last week, when she asserted that certain events like the French Open had an exemption that could allow Djokovic to play without being vaccinated.

Previously, major sporting events like Roland Garros had allowed unvaccinated athletes to compete if they remained in a health “bubble” erected around the tournaments, with regular PCR testing and no contact with the outside world.

The first major international sports event to be directly affected by France's vaccine pass policy would be the Six Nations rugby championship, where France will host Italy on 6 February, Ireland on 12 February and England on 19 March.

Where else could Djokovic play?

With the French Open unlikely to let him play and New York vaccination rules also posing a problem, Djokovic’s hopes for a Grand Slam success in 2022 rest on Wimbledon.

Organisers have not yet finalised safety arrangements, but currently unvaccinated people can enter England, but must isolate for ten days.

The next tournament on Djokovic's calendar is likely to be the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships from 21-26 February.

Players will not need to prove vaccination, but will need to provide negative PCR tests before being allowed into the United Arab Emirates.

Organisers of the Monte Carlo Masters, in April, which Djokovic has won twice, are waiting French government guidelines.

Sponsorship under threat

The impact of these new regulations could affect Djokovic beyond his rankings.

The tennis star has earned an estimated $150 million, including $30 million in sponsorship deals last year, according to Forbes magazine

But those could be up for review. His most lucrative contract, with French clothing brand Lacoste, is valued at around $9 million.

The company said on Monday it would contact Djokovic to “review the events that have accompanied his presence in Australia".

(with wires)

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