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Novak Djokovic cannot play the French Open without a vaccine

This is another day of bad news for Novak Djokovic. The No. 1 ranked men's singles player may not be allowed to play at the French Open, the next Grand Slam on the schedule, due to his vaccination status.

Djokovic on Sunday lost his appeal to play in the Australian Open and ended a nearly two-week-long saga about his unvaccinated status and attempts to enter the country with a visa and exemption. It is the first Grand Slam on the calendar as he chases a 21st Grand Slam victory that would break a tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal over most men's titles through the ages.

Also on Sunday, the French parliament largely approved a law requiring vaccination for everyone in restaurants, sports arenas and other venues. Previously unvaccinated individuals were allowed to come in with a valid negative test. It includes the French Open, and the French Ministry of Sports confirmed on Monday that there would be no exceptions.

French Open up in the air for Djokovic

The French Ministry of Sports confirmed that there would be no exceptions to Reuters, but said the overall situation could change before the draw in May. Via Reuters:

"It will apply to anyone who is a spectator or professional athlete. And this so far," the ministry said.

"As far as Roland Garros is concerned, it is in May. The situation may change between now and then and we hope it will be more favorable. So we'll see, but there is clearly no exception."

Australia allowed exemptions granted by an independent panel of experts. Djokovic received initial permission for a visa, but was detained and the information was found to be insufficient. The star appealed to no avail and was deported ahead of day 1 of the tournament. Australia is experiencing increasing cases after two years of strict measures and border restrictions. France is 90% vaccinated.

Alexander Zverev, the No. 3 ranked player in the world, appreciated the clear stance from the French Open.

"It's at least clear what's going to happen," he told reporters on Monday via Reuters. "They say at least: 'OK, no unvaccinated players are allowed to play in the French Open'.

"We now know that in advance and I can imagine that there will be no dispensations and that's ok."

The German defeated Daniel Altmaier 7-6 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (1) to advance to the second round of the Australian Open.

When will Djokovic play next?

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic arrives at Nikola Tesla Airport after the Australian Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open, in Belgrade, Serbia on 17 January 2022. REUTERS / Christopher Pike TPX TODAY'S PICTURES

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic arrives at Nikola Tesla Airport after the Australian Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open, in Belgrade, Serbia on 17 January 2022. REUTERS / Christopher Pike TPX TODAY'S PICTURES

Djokovic is next scheduled for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, to be held 21-26. February. Vaccination is not required. A spokesman told Reuters that players would not be allowed to enter the United Arab Emirates unless they provided a negative PCR test. They would then have to follow all applicable test protocols and processes outlined by the tennis organizations.

The Monte Carlo Masters, which Djokovic has won twice, will be held in France in April. It should presumably also follow the country's vaccination guidelines.

Wimbledon organizers have not finalized safety protocols ahead of this summer's major. Unvaccinated people can currently enter the UK and must isolate themselves for 10 days after arrival.

The US Open closes the Grand Slam calendar in August. Foreign travelers must be fully vaccinated in a decision dating back to November. They have to provide proof of that and there are few exceptions. Djokovic also has potential U.S. tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami in March.

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