France Rules All Athletes Must Be Vaccinated For Sporting Events - Men's Health Magazine Australia

France Rules All Athletes Must Be Vaccinated For Sporting Events

After the saga surrounding Novak Djokovic and his Australian visa, France has ruled all athletes must be vaccinated for sporting events.

In just the last week, the world has sat up and watched the embarrassment suffered on home soil for the government and organisers of the Australian Open, regarding Novak Djokovic’s medical exemption and later, revoked visa. For many, Djokovic’s exemption was triggering, coming at a time where countless loved ones, family and friends remained stranded overseas due to Australia’s hardline border control in light of the global pandemic. While the saga did shine a spotlight on the detention facility where Djokovic was detained briefly alongside more than 30 asylum seekers who have been held captive for months – even years – on end, this glaring human injustice came to be steamrolled by politics and anti-vax movements now hailing the Serbian player as their idol. 

It’s prompted France to act swiftly, with the French government ruling that all athletes will have to be vaccinated in order to attend and compete in sporting events in the country. The announcement was made by French sports minister, Roxana Maracineanu, who expressed that athletes would not be exempt from France’s Covid pass, which will soon come into effect for those over the age of 16. “The vaccination pass has been adopted. As soon as the law is promulgated, it will become mandatory to enter public buildings already subject to the health pass (stadium, theatre or lounge) for all spectators, practitioners, French or foreign professionals,” she wrote on Twitter. 

While it was previously suggested that athletes might be exempt from the ruling on vaccination requirements through a bubble system not too dissimilar from that used by the NBA at the height of the pandemic, the French government has now scrapped any ideas of such. Speaking about the situation regarding Novak Djokovic here in Australia, French MP and executive director for En Marche, Stanislas Guerini, said the tennis star’s behaviour was “irresponsible”. 

Discussing the Covid pas in an interview with RTL, Guerini added: “All the big events which will take place in France will also adopt the Covid pass. Who would understand if we asked our citizens to make an effort and respect the rules if we authorise some to get out of them?”

As for Djokovic, the world No. 1 has since landed back in Belgrade, Serbia where he was greeted by loyal fans and supporters at the airport. Serbian players have been quick to speak out against his treatment and the media circus he suffered in Australia. Serbian No 3 Dusan Lajovic said, “I think the way they treated him was terribly wrong. I think the decision itself was terribly wrong, and also the reason why they did it is also for me terribly wrong because based [on] just an idea, I don’t think it’s the right way.”

Laslo Djere described Djokovic’s visa cancellation as a “catastrophic situation,” and said the world will have a different opinion on Australia after Djokovic’s incident. He expressed Djokovic will only come back from the incident stronger as “that’s also in our Serbian mentality. When we get beat down or we are treated a bad way or how we maybe don’t deserve, we just try to – especially him – tries to be inspired by that and gain strength from that.”

The situation raises doubts over Djokovic’s participation in a number of tournaments central to the tennis calendar. Certainly, it seems unlikely that should he maintain his stance on the vaccine that he won’t be able to defend his title and go for what could be potentially his 21st Grand Slam title at the French Open. 

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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