The French health minister has announced that foreign athletes wishing to compete in the country must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Government sources told AFP on Monday that a new vaccine pass, “applies to everyone, to volunteers and to elite sportspeople, including those coming from abroad, until further notice.” The news follows in the wake of tennis player Novak Djokovic's high-profile deportation from Australia
after it was revealed he was not vaccinated before travelling to the country.
To obtain the new vaccine pass, a complete vaccine procedure (two doses or one, depending on the vaccine) will be required. From February 15, a third booster dose (as long as it has been four months after the previous doses) will also be required for the pass to remain valid. Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu emphasised on Twitter
on Sunday evening that "as soon as the law is promulgated, it will become compulsory to enter Establishments Receiving Public (ERP) already subject to the health pass (stadium, theatre or exhibition) for all spectators, athletes, French or foreign professionals."
Marcineau later told the media, “To practice your profession or come for pleasure as part of a sports team you will have to have a valid vaccine. That’s the case for both people who live in France and also for foreigners who come to our country for a holiday or a major sporting event. Athletes have a role to play in helping convince non-vaccinated people into the vaccine programme as soon as possible.”, Cycling News reports
The first round of the downhill World Cup series take place in Lourdes, France at the end of March and racers will return to the country in August for the World Championships in Les Gets. While we aren't aware of the vaccine status of any mountain bike racers, we know that some athletes have delayed getting jabbed due to their fears over the side effects of the vaccine. In road cycling, former Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet is one such rider as he delayed his booster after blaming his first two doses for a lack of form
The UCI has yet to publish its own COVID protocols for the 2022 season and it has not yet commented on the French law.Editor's Note: A previous version of this article claimed that an athlete could compete in France if they were recently recovered from COVID-19, this has been removed.