Updated Jan 17, 2022 - Sports

French minister says foreign athletes must be vaccinated to compete

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu leaving a cabinet meeting In Paris on Jan. 15.

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu leaves a cabinet meeting In Paris on Jan. 15. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

All athletes, including those from foreign countries, must be vaccinated to compete in events held in France, French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu announced Monday after lawmakers adopted a new coronavirus law Sunday.

Why it matters: It's unclear what the mandate will mean for Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic's ability defend his French Open title in May. Djokovic just left Australia after an appeals court in the country revoked his visa for being unvaccinated.

  • The world men's tennis No. 1 can't defend his Australian Open title in the tournament, which began in Melbourne on Monday.
  • The new vaccine mandate comes roughly a month before the country hosts the Six Nations rugby tournament.

Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday that Djokovic would have to comply with the country's pandemic requirements to enter the country to play at the Madrid Open, which begins in April, as he praised Australia for its decision against the 34-year-old.

  • "The rules are there to comply with and no one is above the rules," he said, per CNN.
  • Spain requires international travelers provide proof of full vaccination or having recovered from COVID-19, or a PCR negative test within 72 hours before arrival in the country.

What to watch: France's sports ministry left open the possibility for the situation to change by the time the French Open begins.

  • "Now, as far as Roland Garros is concerned, it's in May. The situation may change between now and then and we hope that it will be more favourable. So we'll see, but clearly there is no exemption," the ministry said, according to ESPN.

Go deeper ... Timeline: The Djokovic saga

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Sanchez.

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