MELBOURNE, Australia. Novak Djokovic is set to receive a visa to compete in next year’s Australian Open despite his high-profile deportation in January.
Australian Broadcasting Corp. said on Tuesday that it had confirmed newspaper reports that the immigration minister had lifted Djokovic’s potential three-year exclusion period.
The Australian Border Force has previously said the exclusion period 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 communication about Djokovic’s visa status would have to come from the 35-year-old Serbian tennis star.
The 21-time Grand Slam singles champion has been barred from defending his title at the Australian Open this year after a whirlwind 10-day legal saga over his COVID-19 vaccination status, which culminated in the cancellation of his visa ahead of the tournament.
Djokovic arrived at Melbourne airport as the world’s top tennis player with a visa he obtained online and believed to be a valid medical exemption from the country’s strict laws for unvaccinated travelers, as it had been approved by Tennis Australia and the Australian government. The host state of Victoria.
Confusion ensued, generating global headlines. As it turned out, this medical report allowed him to enter the tournament, which required all players, fans and officials to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but not necessarily to enter the country. It was rejected by the Australian Border Services Agency.
Alex Hawke, then Australia’s immigration minister, used discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa on character grounds, saying he was a “talisman for the anti-vaccination community”.
Government and border regulations have changed in Australia this year, and from 6 July, arriving travelers no longer need to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. This removed the main hurdle for Djokovic’s entry.
This allowed him to appeal to new immigration minister Andrew Giles to review 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 To his credit, Djokovic left Australia quickly after his visa was revoked and has not publicly criticized the Australian authorities.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 Home Office website explains, applicants in Djokovic’s circumstances must explain in writing to Australian border authorities why the exclusion period should be extended – “you must show us that there are compassionate or compelling circumstances to lift your re-entry ban and grant you a visa.”
At the ATP Finals in Italy on Monday, Djokovic said his lawyers were in talks with the Australian government about having him play at the Australian Open from January 16 to 29.