Australia will lift a three-year ban imposed on unvaccinated Serbs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former world number 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic will receive a visa to play at the Australian Open in January 2023, the Guardian Australia newspaper and state broadcaster ABC have reported.
The Australian government will lift the three-year ban imposed on the unvaccinated Serbian player after his visa was canceled in January 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic, they said on Tuesday.
Djokovic, already in Melbourne, was deported from Australia, which had strict COVID-19 protocols, after losing court appeals. He was chasing his tenth Australian Open title.
The government said a COVID diagnosis did not justify its medical exemption from the rules, which clearly stated that all visitors must be vaccinated. He was banned from entering the country until 2025.
According to the ABC report, he had confirmed that Immigration Minister Andrew Giles had revoked that ban, allowing Djokovic to compete.
A spokesman for Australia’s Immigration Ministry declined to comment on the reports.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said this month that Djokovic would be welcome in January if he could get a visa, but Tennis Australia was unable to lobby on his behalf.
In July, the Australian government removed a rule that required international travelers to declare their COVID-19 vaccination status. Djokovic said in October that he had received “positive signals” about the status of efforts to revoke his ban.
‘Slap in the face’
Djokovic’s three-year ban can be revoked at the discretion of the centre-left government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, which took the reins of the ruling conservative coalition when the tennis star’s visa was revoked.
Opposition politician Karen Andrews, who was interior minister when Djokovic was deported, argued that he should not receive special treatment.
“It would be a slap in the face to those people in Australia who did the right thing, got vaccinated, did everything they had to do, if Novak Djokovic is suddenly allowed to return to the country simply because it is a stop. multi-million dollar ranked tennis player,” he told ABC radio last month.
If Djokovic succeeds, he will hope to win and equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles.
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