Novak Djokovic will receive a visa to participate in the Australian Open



Novak Djokovic is set to be granted a visa to play in next year’s Australian Open despite his high-profile transfer in January.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said on Tuesday it had confirmed press reports that the immigration minister had scrapped a possible three-year exclusion period for Djokovic.

The Australian Border Force has previously said that the exclusion period can be waived in certain circumstances – and each case will be evaluated on its merits.

Read also | Novak Djokovic scores a convincing win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the ATP Finals opener

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles’ office declined to comment on privacy reasons, meaning that any announcement of Djokovic’s visa status would have to come from the 35-year-old Serbian tennis star.

The 21-time Grand Slam singles champion was not allowed to defend his Australian Open title this year after a tumultuous 10-day legal saga over his COVID-19 vaccination status culminated in his visa being revoked on the eve of the tournament.

Djokovic arrived at Melbourne Airport as the world’s top tennis player on a visa he obtained online and what is believed to be a valid medical exemption from the country’s strict laws for non-vaccinated travelers because it has been approved by the Australian Tennis Club and the Australian government. The state of Victoria, which is hosting the tournament.

Confusion reigned, world headlines were born. As it turned out, that medical exemption allowed him to enter the tournament, which required all players, fans and officials to be vaccinated against the Corona virus, but not necessarily to enter the country. The Australian Border Force refused.

Alex Hawke, Australia’s immigration minister at the time, used discretion to cancel Djokovic’s visa for reasons of personality, noting that he was “a mascot of a community of anti-vaccine sentiment”.

Australia made a change of government and changed its border rules this year, and since July 6, incoming travelers no longer have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccines. This removed the main barrier to Djokovic’s entry.

She allowed him to apply to the new Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to reconsider his visa status. In his favour, Djokovic quickly left Australia after his visa was revoked and did not openly criticize the Australian authorities.

As the Department of Home Affairs website explains, applicants in Djokovic’s circumstances must explain in writing to Australian border authorities why the exclusion period should be set aside – “you must show us that there are sympathetic or compelling circumstances for your re-entry ban to be revoked and for your visa”.

On Monday, Djokovic indicated at the ATP Finals in Italy that his lawyers are communicating with the Australian government with a view to running the Australian Open from January 16-29.

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