Novak Djokovic will be granted a visa to play in next year’s Australian Open despite his high-profile deportation in January.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said on Tuesday it had confirmed media reports that the immigration minister had overturned a possible three-year ban period for Djokovic.
The Australian Border Force previously said that a period of exclusion could be waived in certain circumstances and that each case would be assessed on its merits.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles’ office declined to comment on privacy grounds, meaning any announcement about 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 that culminated in his visa being revoked in the eve of the tournament.
Djokovic arrived at Melbourne airport as the world’s highest-ranked tennis player with a visa he had obtained online and what he believed was a valid medical exemption to the country’s strict laws for unvaccinated travelers because it was backed by Tennis Australia and the government. of Victoria. state, which hosts the tournament.
Confusion reigned, generating global headlines. According to reports, this medical exemption allowed him to enter the tournament, which required that all players, fans and officials be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but not necessarily to enter the country. He was turned away by the Australian Border Force.
Alex Hawke, Australia’s immigration minister at the time, used discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa on character grounds, claiming he was a talisman for a community of anti-vaccine sentiment.
Australia has had a change of government and changed its border rules this year, and as of July 6, incoming travelers no longer have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. That removed the main barrier to entry for Djokovic.
It allowed him to petition the new Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles, to reconsider his visa status. To his credit, Djokovic left Australia quickly after his visa was revoked and has not publicly criticized the Australian authorities.
As the Department of the Interior website explains, applicants in Djokovic’s circumstances are required to explain in writing to Australian border authorities why the exclusion period should be set aside. “You must show us that compassionate or compelling circumstances exist to waive his re-entry ban and grant him the visa.”
Djokovic said at the ATP Finals in Italy on Monday that his lawyers were contacting the Australian government with a view to having him contest the Australian Open from January 16-29.
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