Novak Djokovic receives huge boost after shock 'loophole' emerges

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·Sports Editor
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Novak Djokovic, pictured here after winning the French Open in 2021.
Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the French Open in 2021. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

It looks as though Novak Djokovic might be able to defend his French Open crown after all.

Last week it appeared as though the World No.1 had suffered a brutal new body blow after France's sports ministry announced new measures that elite athletes will need to be vaccinated in order to perform in the country.

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The ministry said a new vaccine pass: "Applies to everyone, to volunteers and to elite sportspeople, including those coming from abroad, until further notice."

The new move appeared to be a huge blow for Djokovic after the unvaccinated tennis star was deported from Australia after having his visa cancelled.

But according to new reports, Djokovic will be able to gain a vaccine pass in France even if he remains unvaccinated because he had Covid-19 in the last six months.

It is the same 'loophole' that Djokovic used to gain a medical exemption when he was initially granted a visa to enter Australia.

According to La Gazetta, France's vaccine passport can be granted to those who have recovered from Covid in the last six months.

Djokovic contracted Covid on December 16, meaning the May 22-June 5 French Open will fall in the six-month window.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here disembarking from his plane at the airport in Dubai.
This screen grab from AFPTV shows Novak Djokovic disembarking from his plane at the airport in Dubai. (Photo by STR/AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images)

If he is able to play the French Open it will be a huge boost for Djokovic, with his ability to play Wimbledon and the US Open also in extreme doubt.

In a leaked email to the players last week, the ATP wrote: "[Players] have been informed by the French Tennis Federation that legislation will soon be passed by the French Government prohibiting non-vaccinated athletes from competing in any sporting event.

However the email revealed that players still might be able to play unvaccinated if they have a valid medical exemption.

"Non-vaccinated players will be unable to compete at tournaments in France," the email continued.

"Players will have to be fully vaccinated to be eligible to compete, OR have a medical certificate that exempts them from vaccination due to medical reasons."

Daniel Andrews hits back at Craig Tiley's Djokovic claim

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has responded after Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said Djokovic is planning to play the Australian Open in 2023.

Djokovic is automatically banned from Australia for three years after his visa was cancelled, however the Australian government has the right to wave the ban.

Speaking on Sunday, Tiley offered a resounding 'yes' when asked if Djokovic would return in 12 months time.

"Obviously, he's got to play out this year, but that will be his intention," Tiley told Channel Nine.

"At the end of the day, he's the No.1 player in the world and he really loves the Australian Open."

Daniel Andrews and Novak Djokovic, pictured here in Melbourne.
Daniel Andrews says Novak Djokovic must be vaccinated if he wants to come back to Australia. Image: Getty

But according to Andrews, Djokovic will only be welcome if he is vaccinated.

“Rafa (Nadal) had it right. It could all have been avoided if he just got vaccinated, and that fellow might think he’s bigger than the tournament. He’s not,” Andrews told reporters.

“That’s why the tournament’s happening without him. And it’s a great success.”

Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews previously said Djokovic would have to demonstrate why he should be allowed to return to Australia in the future.

"It's a matter or him to consider ... but a three-year exclusion could apply," she said.

"(The exclusion) can be waived in compelling circumstances, but it's not a matter for today or tomorrow but some time in the future."

with agencies

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