Serbia (Sports Desk) — World No.1 tennis star landed in Belgrade on Monday after being deported from Australia with more lousy news awaiting. The 34-year-old hotshot might be barred from the 2022 French Open, too, after being seized from defending his Australian Open title.
The pandemic politics have been at their peak for the past few weeks, with Djokovic being right in the middle of the polarized debate over vaccines.
The first chapter, however, of this perpetual debate came to an end as the star player reached back home on Monday. However, new speculations are now rising as French authorities have introduced a new vaccination law prohibiting any unvaccinated individual from entering the stadium. The new “vaccine pass law” came into light on Sunday as it was presented and approved by the French parliament.
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While commenting on the newly adopted law, a member of French Parliament, Christophe Castaner, stated that anyone looking to be a part of the French Open would have to be vaccinated. While talking to BFM, French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said, “To do your job, to come for pleasure or leisure, to practice a sport, it will be necessary to present a proof of vaccine. This will be valid for people who live in France but also for foreigners who come to our country for vacation or a major sports competition.”
Now, looking at Djokovic’s solid stance on vaccination, it’s not hard to assume that the whole fiasco might repeat itself in the French Open to be held in May.
However, there might still be hope for the Serbian ace as a few details of the law are still not made public, including whether the law exempts individuals who have recently recovered from covid-19. And if yes, for how long after contracting the virus will an individual be exempted. Remember, according to Djokovic’s statement, he has, in fact, contracted the virus and recovered during last year.
Even if he is able to go through the French Open, he might be held back in Wimbledon scheduled for June later this year. However, England authorities have been a little less strict regarding vaccination status as there are a couple of examples where exemptions have been granted to foreign athletes. US authorities, on the other hand, stated that they would follow government instructions for the US Open with no exemptions.
It’s still unclear whether the star player will be able to defend his Wimbledon title or not. For now, he has headed back home, where he was greeted with a warm welcome and overwhelming support. Talking on the issue, the Serbian President accused the Australian government of harassing the star athlete. According to state-owned media, Djokovic will stay in Belgrade with his mother and close family and will not be giving any statements in the media.
The whole fiasco began when the initial exemption granted to the star was met with anger and hate by Australians as the population is going through strict lockdowns and vaccination mandates. He got his visa through an automated process that was later held back by the Australian government under people’s pressure.
As per statements made by the Australian government, Djokovic’s visa was revoked due to the rising possibility of mass anti-vaccine sentiments in the general public. He was deported from the country on Sunday and, according to the current Australian laws, will not be able to reenter the country for at least three years.
The star-studded Australian Open season commenced on Monday, with almost all top players competing for the title. Djokovic has won the Australian title 9 times, and a win this year would have earned him the world record for the most Grand Slams. The record is currently shared by Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer.
The Serbian Star is currently being regarded as a hero by the anti-vaxxers worldwide and in his home country. The vaccine debate is still going on, and who knows where it is headed.