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Australia leaves the door open for Djokovic to play at next year’s Open By Reuters

© Reuters. Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is flying to Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight after the Federal Court upheld the government’s decision to suspend his visa to play in the Australian Open on 16 January 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. REUTERS / Loren Elli


SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for Novak Djokovic to compete in next year’s Australian Open, despite a three-year automatic ban on tennis superstars entering the country.

The world’s first player left Australia on Sunday after the Federal Court upheld the government’s decision to cancel its visa, limiting the country’s dramatic days of COVID-19 entry rules and a vaccine-free status.

Under the Immigration Act, Djokovic cannot be given another visa for three years unless the Australian Immigration Minister acknowledges that there are credible or compassionate reasons.

“I’m not going to condition that in advance or say anything that won’t allow the minister to make the calls that he needs to make,” Morrison told Djokovic of Dubai on 2GB radio on Monday.

“It takes three years, but there is a chance that (one person) will be able to return to the right situation, and that will be taken into account right away.”

A unanimous verdict by a three-judge Federal Court chair dealt a final blow to Djokovic’s hopes for Djokovic’s record-breaking 21st Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, to the chagrin of his family and supporters. On March 14, the world’s best male player was arrested by immigration authorities in January. 6, was released on January 10 by a judge and re-arrested on Saturday pending trial on Sunday.

Djokovic, 34, said he was very disappointed with the verdict, but respected the court’s decision.

“I’m uncomfortable with the focus of the last few weeks on me and I hope we can all focus on the game and tournament that I love now,” Djokovic said before flying out of Melbourne.

The player was filmed by Reuters wearing a mask and taking selfies with fans at the entrance to Dubai, waiting for his entourage to follow from the plane.

Djokovic was taken by airline staff in a terminal buggy to the departure gate a few hours later for a flight to Belgrade, where he only checked in.

The saga sparked a riot between Canberra and Belgrade, with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic calling the court’s decision “scandalous”.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday that she and Morrison had been in contact with Brnabic in the legal process last week.

“I am absolutely confident that the very positive relations between Australia and Serbia and the bilateral relationship will continue on a strong foundation as it stands today,” Payn told reporters.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Djokovic could be a threat to public order as his presence would boost sentiment against vaccines among the worst outbreaks of Australian coronavirus.

The judges of the Federal Court stated that their judgment was based on the legality and legality of the decision of the Minister, but did not address the “merit or wisdom” of the decision. They have not yet released the full reason behind the decision.


The visa issue for the Serbian tennis player has sparked a worldwide debate over the rights of people who refuse to be vaccinated, while governments take steps to protect themselves from a two-year pandemic.

Djokovic was granted a visa to enter Australia, and on December 16 a COVID-19 infection provided a basis for a medical exemption from all the requirements of Australia for all visitors to be vaccinated. The exception was organized by Tennis Australia and the state government of Victoria.

This exception has sparked outrage in Australia, which has suffered some of the most severe COVID-19 blockages in the world and where more than 90% of adults are vaccinated.

The debate turned into a political touch for Morrison as he prepared for the May election on the responsibility between the center-right federal coalition government and the center-left Victoria state government.

On Monday, Morrison defended the management of the situation and separated Djokovic’s case from skeptics of vaccines within his government.

“If you’re someone who comes from abroad, and there are requirements to enter this country, you have to meet them,” he said. “This is about someone who did not follow the rules of coming to Australia and entering our border.”

The men’s tennis organization ATP said the decision “marks the end of a very unfortunate event” and added that it respected the decision, with Tennis Australia echoing it.

At the tennis circuit, fellow players have run out of patience to finish the media circus.

“The situation has not been good for anyone. It feels like everything happened here at the last minute and that’s why it became so confusing,” said Andy Murray, the world’s first former number one.

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