For the first time this year, Novak Djokovic will be eligible to play in a Grand Slam as French Open organizers said Wednesday that the event’s defending champion will be cleared to compete in the 126th edition of the tournament.
The decision to allow Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, back at the French Open comes after France lifted restrictions in almost all public spaces except hospitals, nursing homes and public transit Monday. Roland Garros, the tournament’s host, is expected to be operating at full capacity by the time the event begins May 22.
“As things stand, nothing stands in the way of Djokovic taking part in the French Open,” tournament director Amélie Mauresmo said at a news conference Wednesday,
Djokovic, 34, began the year in the midst of a legal battle following his arrival in Australia to defend his Australian Open title. Although he originally received a medical exemption to play in the tournament, his visa was revoked by the Australian government and he was deported from the country before the opening round.
Djokovic was also not able to play at ATP 1000 tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami this month, because he is unable to enter the United States without proof of vaccination.
While that is not required to enter France, French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton warned that the situation could change before the French Open starts in late May.
“There’s still a virus circulating, and we have to be cautious,” Moretton said, per ESPN. “If things were to happen again and the government would take new measures, we would not be excluded from these measures.”
Although he has been forced to miss tournaments as a result of his unvaccinated status, Djokovic told BBC last month that he was not going to receive a COVID-19 vaccination if required to do so. The former world No. 1 has played in just one event in 2022, losing in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships to Jiri Vesely.