Novak Djokovic will be allowed to compete at the French Open even if he does not receive a COVID-19 vaccine as long as the coronavirus situation in France remains stable, organizers said on Wednesday.
Russian tennis players, including Daniil Medvedev, who was ranked first, will also be admitted to compete in the tournament but as neutral players because of the war started by their country. they are in neighboring Ukraine.
Organizers say there is currently nothing stopping Djokovic from defending his title at the clay-court Grand Slam. France this week lifted measures requiring the wearing of masks in most establishments and allowed unvaccinated people to return to restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.
“At this stage, nothing can stop him from returning to the court,” French Open director Amelie Mauresmo said at a press conference.
Djokovic was deported from Australia in January after a legal battle over whether he would be allowed entry into the country, forcing him to miss the Australian Open. He told the BBC last month that he was willing to miss the upcoming Grand Slams as well if they asked him to be vaccinated.
Djokovic has won the French Open twice and has a total of 20 major titles, one short of the record held by Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard won the Australian Open this year.
French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton said that although Djokovic is now free to play, French authorities could be forced to introduce new restrictions if the virus situation worsens before the tournament begins. beginning on May 22.
“It’s not up to us,” Moretton said. “Today, there is a small virus that is going around. We’re pretty confident that the light is green, but we’re both cautious about what’s happened in the last two years.”
When asked if Russian players would be allowed to compete at the tournament amid the war in Ukraine, the organizers said they plan to follow through with the decision to suspend Russia and its ally Belarus but allow their players competed as neutral athletes.
Seven sports governing groups around the world have condemned the war; canceled events in Russia and Belarus; disqualify those two countries from the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup team competitions; and announced on 1 March that players from those countries would be allowed to compete in the WTA, ATP and Grand Slam tournaments but would not be allowed to carry the names or flags of Russia or Belarus.
“We are holding this line,” said Amelie Oudea-Castera, general manager of the French tennis federation.
Other sports, including track and field, football and figure skating, have banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing.
Wimbledon organizers are talking with the British government about whether Russian players should be allowed to compete at this year’s grass court tournament if they do not distance themselves from President Vladimir Putin.
Oudea-Castera said the French organizers do not plan to begin a detailed and personalized analysis of the players’ individual situations, which “could be unusually dependent on family circumstances without each of them has to go through”.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the day Medvedev confidently climbed to the top of the ATP rankings for the first time while competing at the Mexico Open.
“Watching the news from home, waking up here in Mexico, is not easy,” Medvedev said. “As a tennis player, I want to promote peace around the world. We play in a lot of different countries; I have been to a lot of countries as a junior and professional student. It’s not easy to hear all this news. … I am all for peace. ”