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Novak Djokovic, still unvaccinated, can play in the Australian Open 2023

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalNov 16, 2022 | 17:32

Novak Djokovic, still unvaccinated, can play in the Australian Open 2023

Novak Djokovic's visa ban by the Australian government has been ovetrurned and he is now set to play at the Australian Open starting January 16, 2023.Photo: AP

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic has been granted entry in Australia to play the Australian Open 2023 tournament. The Australian government has overturned the three-year visa ban on Djokovic that it imposed on the player because he was unvaccinated against Covid-19.

In January 2022, the Serbian player was detained at a hotel in Australia and then in a dramatic decision by the government, Djokovic was deported from Australia even though he had won the case in the Australian Federal Court. Australia's Immigration Minister Alex Hawke had used his discretionary powers impose a visa ban on Djokovic because the minister felt that the tennis star's presence could cause civil unrest in Australia.

Why has his visa ban been overturned? Australia saw a change of government in May 2022, and Andrew Giles replaced Alex Hawke as the Immigration Minister. The new government overturned the visa ban which had prohibited Djokovic from entering Australia for three years. 

On Tuesday (November 15), Australian Open Director Craig Tiley also said that he hoped Djokovic could return for next year's tournament. "I know Novak wants to come and play and to get back to competing. He loves Australia and it's where he's had the best success but the timing (on any announcement) is upto somebody else and we'll just play that one by ear," Tiley said, reported the The Sydney Morning Herald.

According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, Immigration Minister Andrew Giles will grant Djokovic a visa, overturning the three year-ban on him.

Novak Djokovic was not allowed to compete at the Australian Open in January 2022 because of his unvaccinated status. Photo: Getty Images

What happened in Australia?

  • On January 5, 2022 Djokovic had arrived in Melbourne but his entry was rejected by the border officials in early in the morning.
  • His visa was cancelled on the spot and he was taken to a quarantine hotel, where he stayed in detention for five days.
  • Djokovic's legal team challenged the visa cancellation at the Australian Federal Court.
  • On January 10, 2022, Australia's court heard arguments from both the sides.
  • Djokovic's legal team launched a massive defence for him saying that he was treated unfairly when he arrived in Australia. They said that it was a case of "legal unreasonableness" and denial of "procedural fairness".
  • The government's legal team said that Djokovic had enough time to explain his case.
  • However, judge Anthony Kelly revoked the ban on his visa and ordered the Australian government to bear all legal cost of Djokovic.
  • The tennis star was allowed to walk free immediately.
  • However, on January 14, 2022 three days before the Australian Open was to kick off, Djokovic's visa was cancelled for the second time by the then-Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who said that his visa was cancelled on "health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so."
  • Djokovic didn't take a legal route thereafter, and instead, left Australia for his country Serbia via Dubai once he was convinced that he wouldn't be allowed to play.
    Tennis player Novak Djokovic leaves Australia on January 17, 2022 as his visa was cancelled for the second time by the Australian government. Photo: Getty Images

     

Why was his visa cancelled? Djokovic's visa was cancelled by the Australian government because of his unvaccinated status.

  • Djokovic had said that he had obatined medical exemption for Covid-19 vaccination from Tennis Australia Association, but the Federal government of Australia cancelled his visa upon arrival in Australia.
  • Djokovic had maintained his anti-vaccine stance, and he had submitted to Australian authorities that he had contracted Covid-19 in December 2021 and thereby he was not eligible for vaccination for the next six months.
  • In February, after his deportation from Australia, he had also said that he was never against vaccination but that he has always supported freedom to choose what one puts into their body.
  • In an interview with BBC, Djokovic had also said that he was not deported from Australia because of his unvaccinated status but because Immigration Minister Alex Hawke wanted him out of the country on the perception that his presence could shore up anti-vaccine sentiments in the country.

Now: Novak Djokovic, still unvaccinated, will now be allowed to enter Australia and play the Australian Open 2023.

Last updated: November 16, 2022 | 17:32
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