Novak Djokovic Allowed to Participate in 2022 French Open Even If Unvaccinated

Adam WellsJanuary 7, 2022

FILE - Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates toward the crowd after defeating Italy's Matteo Berrettini in the men's singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 11, 2021. The Australian government has denied No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic entry to defend his title in the year's first tennis major and canceled his visa because he failed to meet the requirements for an exemption to the country's COVID-19 vaccination rules. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File

Novak Djokovic may not be eligible for the Australian Open, but the French Open will be more than happy to have the 34-year-old play in the tournament later this year. 

France sports minister Roxane Maracineanu said Friday that Djokovic will be eligible to play at Roland Garros regardless of his vaccination status. 

"He would not follow the same organizational arrangements as those who are vaccinated," Maracineanu told FranceInfo radio (h/t Reuters). "But he will nonetheless be able to compete [at Roland Garros] because the protocols, the health bubble, allows it."

Djokovic was going to Australia this week with the hope of defending his Aussie Open title. He announced on Tuesday that he received a medical exemption to participate in the tournament. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted that Djokovic's visa was canceled because he failed to comply with the country's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP

Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.

Speaking to reporters, Australia Minister of Health Greg Hunt said Djokovic wasn't being allowed to enter the country because he failed to provide "appropriate standards of proof" required for his exemption to border patrol.

Per Matthew Futterman of the New York Times, Djokovic was involved in a 10-hour standoff with Australian government officials after traveling to the country over questions about his vaccination status and medical exemption before being told he had to leave the country. 

Djokovic has not publicly confirmed his vaccination status, but he did say on an Instagram Live stream (h/t ESPN.com) in April 2020 he is "opposed to vaccination."

"But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision," he added. "I have my own thoughts about the matter, and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don't know."

Djokovic is the three-time defending Australian Open champion. If he isn't able to complete, it will mark the first year he doesn't play in the season's first grand-slam tournament since 2004. 

There remains a chance Djokovic could still play on a medical exemption. His application is currently being reviewed by Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly with a decision coming down as soon as Monday, per AAP (via ESPN.com). 

The Serbian star is also the reigning French Open champion. He defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets in the final to win at Roland Garros for the second time. 

The 2022 French Open is scheduled to begin on May 16.