Novak Djokovic to be granted visa for 2023 Australian Open - reports

Former world No 1 was deported from Australia in January and issued an automatic three-year ban

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Former world No 1 Novak Djokovic will be granted a visa to enter Australia for the 2023 Australian Open, despite his deportation from the country earlier this year, local media has reported on Tuesday.

The Australian government had decided to grant the unvaccinated Serb a visa, overturning a three-year ban after his ejection from the country, said national broadcaster ABC and other media.

This year's tournament was overshadowed by nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic being put on a plane on the eve of the tournament after a high-stakes legal battle over his visa status.

Djokovic was deported from Australia in January, after arriving in the country to defend his ninth Australia Open title, due to being unvaccinated against Covid-19. The Serb had travelled Down Under with a medical exemption, having tested positive for the coronavirus in the December, but that was not deemed a sufficient reason by the authorities.

A tumultuous 10-day legal saga ensued that saw Djokovic largely confined to an immigration detention hotel before his visa was revoked on the eve of the tournament.

Djokovic originally was granted an exemption to strict vaccination rules by two medical panels and Tennis Australia but, after traveling to Melbourne believing he had all his paperwork in order, the exemption was rejected by the Australian Border Force.

Australia has since lifted its requirement for visitors to show proof of vaccination against Covid.

Djokovic's three-year ban can be overturned at the discretion of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's centre-left government, which is different to the conservative coalition in power when he was kicked out.

Last month, Australian Open chief Craig Tiley said he had spent time with Djokovic recently and the Serbian wanted to return for the first major of the year in January in Melbourne.

"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 instruction 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."

Opposition politician Karen Andrews, who was home affairs minister when Djokovic was deported, argued that he should not be given special 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.

Updated: November 15, 2022, 8:09 AM
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