What’s next for anti-vax tennis star Novak Djokovic? And more omicron news today.
Novak Djokovic returned home Monday after being thwarted from defending his Australian Open title only to face a new predicament: He could be barred from the French Open this year, too, if he’s still not vaccinated against COVID-19.
A plane carrying the No. 1-ranked player touched down in his native Serbia, closing at least the first chapter in a dizzying drama that has resonance in the world of elite sports, Australia’s pandemic politics and the polarized debate over the coronavirus shots.
A handful of fans waving the Serbian flag greeted him at Belgrade’s airport. Djokovic has an almost iconic status in Serbia, and many there felt he was poorly treated by Australia.
But his troubles may not be over yet: He could be barred from the French Open this year, under a new law intended to exclude the unvaccinated from stadiums and other public places. Much could change between now and the start of the Grand Slam tournament in late May, but that raised the specter that the recent saga in Australia would be not just a blip but an ongoing challenge for the athlete, who is increasingly being held up as a hero by the anti-vaccine movement.
For a gallery tracing Djokovic’s ouster from Australia, see further below.
In the United States, residents of nursing homes have been a particularly at-risk group throughout the pandemic, and the advent of the fast-spreading Omicron variant has them facing another wave of infections and deaths, new data shows.
And at churches, congregations across the country have struggled to stay afloat financially and minister to their flocks during the pandemic, though others have managed to weather the storm, often with help from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, and sustained levels of member donations. The coronavirus hit at a time when already fewer Americans were going to worship services.
The ongoing pandemic is likely to impact the Olympics next month. Only “selected” spectators will be permitted at next month’s Beijing Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said Monday.
Athletes will need to be vaccinated — or face a long quarantine — take tests daily and wear masks when not competing or training. Strict containment measures will aim to create a virus-proof “bubble” for thousands of international visitors at a time when omicron is fueling infections globally.
Clapping is OK to cheer on teammates, not chanting. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be sent into isolation and unable to compete until cleared for discharge.