France is tightening its vaccination rules in a way that could put Novak Djokovic at risk of missing the French Open.
From Feb. 15, anyone who is not vaccinated against the coronavirus will need to show proof they tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous four months — down from the current six-month window — in order to enter sports venues in France.
The French law is central to the government's plan for tackling the virus and aims to bar unvaccinated individuals from stadiums, restaurants, bars and other public places.
Djokovic, who is not vaccinated, said he tested positive in mid-December. Under the current rules with a six-month window, he could play in the French Open, which starts May 22. But if the new requirements stay in force until then, they are likely to rule him out unless he gets vaccinated or tests positive again within four months of the start of the clay-court Grand Slam.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The top-ranked Djokovic is the defending champion in Paris. Earlier this month, he was deported from Australia and barred from playing in the Australian Open for not meeting the country’s strict COVID-19 vaccination rules.
French Open organizers have previously said it’s too early to comment since virus restrictions can change between now and May depending on the situation.
Djokovic was granted an exemption to Australia's strict vaccination rules by two medical panels and the tournament organizer in order to play in the Australian Open based on documents he supplied showing he had recently had COVID-19. He received a visa to enter the country through an automated process. But upon arrival, border officials said the exemption was not valid and moved to deport him.