Tennis star Novak Djokovic has suffered plenty of consequences for not being vaccinated, but things are changing for the Serbian tennis legend.
Djokovic has refused to cave to political pressure on this issue, even when facing enormous pushback from the tennis community and national governments to do so. He was deported from Australia and denied a chance to defend his Australian Open title as a result, and he could not participate in two recent tournaments in the United States. But it seems that the advantage is turning into Djokovic’s court once again.
Thanks to French authorities realizing that COVID numbers and cases are declining, they have relaxed vaccine mandates throughout the country. As a result, the French Open has decided to follow suit with its COVID policies, opening a door for Djokovic to defend his title.
"As things stand, nothing stands in the way of Djokovic taking part in the French Open," tournament director Amelie Mauresmo told a news conference on Wednesday.
Related: Wimbledon May Force No. 1-Ranked Russian To Denounce Putin
While French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton said that the tournament will increase restrictions should cases start to spike, things look incredibly promising for Djokovic. He had previously stated that he would not get vaccinated simply for the sake of pursuing titles and that sticking to his convictions was his ultimate goal. Fortunately, those two things no longer have to be mutually exclusive.
“Yes, that is the price I am willing to pay,” Djokovic said in February when asked if he was ready to be excluded from tournaments because he is unvaccinated. “The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.
“I was never against vaccination," (he'd had vaccines as a child), "but I've always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body."