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Novak Djokovic
The Australian government had revoked Djokovic's visa for failing to meet pandemic vaccine entry requirementsImage: WILLIAM WEST/AFP

Djokovic drawn to play in Australian Open first round

January 13, 2022

The tennis No.1 was drawn to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round of the tournament — but the Australian government has yet to decide whether to cancel his visa.


Novak Djokovic was confirmed in the official draw for the Australian Open men's tournament on Thursday.

He is set to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round of the tournament. 

The draw to determine the brackets for the men's and women's singles had been delayed for 75 minutes, drawing speculation around Djokovic's participation. 

It came amid uncertainty about whether Australian authorities would cancel the tennis star's visa for not being vaccinated against COVID.

Australia still mulling deportation

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to comment on Djokovic's status in a news conference on Thursday. But he said the government has yet to decide on canceling Djokovic's visa.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's previous statement that he is weighing exercising discretionary powers to revoke his visa for a second time "has not changed," Morrison told a news conference on the coronavirus pandemic.

Morrison and his Serbian counterpart Ana Brnabic had spoken one-on-one to discuss the situation earlier this week.

Morrison's office said that the Australian leader had "explained our non-discriminatory border policy and its role in protecting Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Public broadcaster Radio Television of Serbia said Brnabic had stressed the disadvantage Djokovic's legal limbo has created for the No. 1 ranked player ahead of the Australian Open: "The [Serbian] prime minister especially emphasized the importance of the conditions for training and physical preparation for the upcoming competition, considering that Novak Djokovic was not allowed to train in the previous days, and the tournament in Melbourne starts this weekend." 

Father calls Australian PM 'dictator'

On Monday, a judge ruled that Djokovic could indeed stay in Australia and play in the tournament, but Immigration Minister Alex Hawke then signaled he was considering exercising his power to deport the tennis star under separate legislation. 

Following the move, the tennis pro's father Srdjan Djokovic blasted Morrison, calling him a "dictator."  The elder Djokovic then appealed to Australia's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, to intervene on his son's behalf.

Novak Djokovic has not commented on Hawke's statement, but wrote on Twitter that he was "pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete" in the Australian Open.

Why did Novak Djokovic have his visa revoked in the first place?

Djokovic arrived in Australia last week, having received his visa after an exemption was granted to the country's rule that international arrivals must be vaccinated against COVID-19. His exemption was based on having recovered from a coronavirus infection in December.

However, questions emerged about whether Djokovic and his team had been completely honest on his immigration paperwork, for example, whether the dates he had tested positive for COVID-19 were accurate and when he selected "no" when asked if he had traveled internationally in the last 14 days.

The star athlete was placed in one of Australia's infamous detention hotels for refugees, highlighting the plight of many who have been held there for years without their asylum applications being processed.

es/fb (AP, Reuters)

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