Australian Open: Djokovic to get visa to play 2023 tournamenttext_fields
Sydney: Despite being deported from the country before this year's Australian Open in January, local media sources on Tuesday stated that former world number one Novak Djokovic will be given a visa to participate in the tournament in 2023.
According to national broadcaster ABC and other domestic media, the Australian government decided to grant the unvaccinated Serb a visa for the Grand Slam match, overturning a three-year ban following his expulsion from the country. AFP contacted Tennis Australia and Australia's immigration ministry for comment.
Nine-time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic was forced to board a plane before this year's competition as a result of a contentious legal dispute over his visa status, which cast a shadow over the competition, AFP reported.
The centre-left government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, which is different from the conservative coalition in power when Djokovic was expelled, has the discretion to overturn the three-year ban.
There have been indications over the past month that the Australian government may change its mind.
"Nothing official yet," Djokovic told reporters after winning his opening match at the ATP Finals in Turin on Monday night.
"We are waiting. They are communicating with the government of Australia. That's all I can tell you for now,"
'Love to come back'
Djokovic recently spent time with Australian Open director Craig Tiley, who claimed last month that the Serbian player wants to return for the first major of the year in Melbourne in January.
"What we're saying at this point is that Novak and the federal government need to work out the situation. And then we'll follow any instructions after that," Tiley told The Age newspaper at the tournament's official launch.
"I did spend some time with Novak at the Laver Cup. We spoke generally. He said that he'd obviously love to come back to Australia but he knows it's going to be an ultimate decision for the federal government.
"He's accepted that position. It's a private matter between them."
When Djokovic was deported, opposition lawmaker Karen Andrews, who was minister of home affairs at the time, claimed that he shouldn't receive preferential treatment.
"It would be a slap in the face for those people in Australia who did the right thing, got vaccinated, did everything they needed to do if all of a sudden Novak Djokovic is allowed back into the country simply because he is a high-ranking tennis player with many millions of dollars," she told ABC radio last month.
Djokovic claimed to have obtained a medical exemption to enter the country without being immunised because he had recently recovered from Covid-19 when he arrived in Melbourne in January for the first Grand Slam of the year.
However, Australian border agents determined that he did not meet the criteria to be exempt from strict vaccination requirements. His visa was subsequently revoked, and a drawn-out legal appeal was unsuccessful.
Australia has since removed the demand that tourists provide proof of Covid immunisation.