Novak Djokovic will be able to return to the Australian Open in January despite being unvaccinated, according to reports. The 21-time Grand Slam champion was deported from the country on the eve of the tournament back in January after having his visa revoked over his ability to “excite anti-vax sentiment” in Australia and automatically received a three-year ban. But according to the Herald Sun, Djokovic has been cleared to return in 2023.
Djokovic was at the centre of a tumultuous saga in Australia at the start of the season as he arrived in the country unvaccinated with a medical exemption supplied by Tennis Australia. The world No 6 had his visa cancelled and was held in a government detention hotel before winning an appeal to have the decision overturned.
But days later, the country’s Immigration Minister exercised his powers to cancel the Serb’s visa for a second time on the grounds that his presence would “excite anti-vax sentiment” in the country and Djokovic lost a second appeal, ending up deported on the eve of the tournament. It meant that he automatically received a three-year ban from returning to the country – something that applies to everyone who has their visa cancelled but can be overturned at discretion in an appeal.
And it appears that when nine-time Australian Open champion decides to lodge an appeal, he will cleared to return in time for the 2023 edition of the tournament, taking place in four months’ time. According to Australia’s Herald Sun, Djokovic has not filed any appeal documents but senior government sources have confirmed the decision has all but been made to overturn his ban.
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The decision opened the door for Djokovic to be allowed back into the country before his three-year ban expired, and it seems the same discretion has been given to the Serb who will be allowed to return for the next Grand Slam tournament after missing the current US Open as a result of his unvaccinated status. Unjabbed foreign nationals are still unable to enter the US, while Australia no longer requires proof of Covid vaccination or proof of a negative Covid test to cross the border.
“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” Djokovic tweeted hours before the US Open draw was made ahead of the tournament. “Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support. Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!”