Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic set for visa to play Australian Open

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Djokovic was deported from Australia forward of the 2022 Australian Open in January resulting from his vaccination standing.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after profitable towards Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas throughout their singles tennis match of the ATP World Tour Finals, on the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A yr after Novak Djokovic’s high-profile deportation from Australia as a result of he’s not vaccinated towards COVID-19, the 21-time Grand Slam champion is ready to be granted a visa to enter the nation so he can compete on the Australian Open in January.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. stated Tuesday it had confirmed newspaper experiences that the immigration minister would put apart a possible three-year ban from entry that Djokovic, a 35-year-old from Serbia, had confronted as a overseas citizen whose visa was revoked.

The Australian Border Force beforehand defined that exclusion interval might be waived in sure circumstances — and that every case can be assessed on its deserves.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles’ workplace declined to touch upon privateness grounds.

Djokovic’s representatives didn’t instantly reply Tuesday to a request for remark. He at present is taking part within the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin, Italy, the place he received his opening match Monday towards Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 7-6 (4) and is subsequent scheduled to play — and converse to the media — on Wednesday towards Andrey Rublev.

After Monday’s victory, Djokovic indicated that his legal professionals had been in contact with the Australian authorities with an eye fixed to him having the ability to contest the Australian Open, which runs from Jan. 16-29.

The nine-time Australian Open champion was not allowed to hunt a tenth title at Melbourne Park after a tumultuous 10-day authorized saga early this yr over his COVID-19 vaccination standing that culminated together with his visa being taken away on the eve of the event.

Djokovic arrived at Melbourne Airport with a visa he had obtained on-line by way of what he believed to be a sound medical exemption from the nation’s strict legal guidelines governing unvaccinated guests. His software had been endorsed by Tennis Australia and the federal government of Victoria state, which hosts the event.

Confusion reigned, producing world headlines. As it turned out, that obvious medical exemption allowed him to enter the event — which, in concept, required all gamers, followers and officers to be vaccinated towards the coronavirus — however not essentially to enter the nation, and it was rejected by the Australian Border Force.

Alex Hawke, Australia’s immigration minister on the time, used discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa on character grounds, stating he was a “talisman of a community of anti-vaccine sentiment.”

Australia has had a change of presidency since and adjusted its border guidelines this yr. Since July, incoming vacationers now not have to offer proof of receiving photographs towards COVID-19. That eliminated the key barrier to entry for Djokovic, who says he has not been — and won’t be — vaccinated towards the coronavirus, even when it means he misses essential tennis tournaments.

Indeed, he sat out the U.S. Open in September, and different occasions within the United States, as a result of he couldn’t fly into the nation as an unvaccinated overseas citizen. He was allowed to play within the French Open, the place he misplaced within the quarterfinals, and at Wimbledon, which he received.

“I don’t have any regrets. I mean, I do feel sad that I wasn’t able to play (at the U.S. Open), but that was a decision that I made and I knew what the consequences would be,” Djokovic stated in September on the Laver Cup in London. “So I accepted them and that’s it.”

Djokovic has spent extra weeks at No. 1 within the ATP rankings than anybody else, breaking Roger Federer’s file, and is No. 8 in the meanwhile, partly due to an absence of exercise and partly as a result of there have been no rating factors awarded to anybody at Wimbledon this yr.

Australia’s modifications allowed Djokovic to use to Giles to rethink his visa standing. In Djokovic’s favor had been two different elements: He left Australia rapidly after his visa was revoked 10 months in the past, and he has not publicly criticized Australian authorities.

As the Department of Home Affairs web site explains, candidates in Djokovic’s circumstances should clarify in writing why the exclusion interval needs to be put apart, saying, “You must show us that there are compassionate or compelling circumstances to put aside your re-entry ban and grant you the visa.”

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