Novak Djokovic returns to Australia for the first time after his visa ban saga almost a year ago

Novak Djokovic

() — Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is back in Australia, according to a Tennis Australia spokesperson, almost a year after he was denied a visa to enter the country due to his stance on the covid-19 vaccine, in a case of high profile that made headlines around the world.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion is scheduled to open his 2023 tennis season next week in Adelaide for the Adelaide International 1. His arrival in the country comes more than a month after Australian officials said the country’s entry ban on Djokovic for three years would be annulled.

The Serb was deported from Australia in January 2022 after former immigration minister Alex Hawke discovered that the tennis star posed a risk to public health and order because, as a celebrity sportsman who had previously expressed opposition to people were forced to get vaccinated against covid-19, it could be seen as an “icon” for anti-vaxxers.

Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia in January after former immigration minister Alex Hawke discovered the tennis star posed a risk to public health and order. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters)

The minister’s decision to deport the once world No. 1 tennis player meant he was initially banned from re-entry for three years.

On Monday, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said: “We will welcome you back to Australia.”

“I have a lot of confidence in the Australian public. I think we have a very well-educated sports crowd, particularly those who come for the tennis. They love their tennis. They love to see greatness. They love to see great athletics, great matches,” Tiley said of the reception Djokovic should expect to receive from the Australians.

“I’m very confident that the fans will react as we expect them to react and have respect for that,” he added.

has reached out to the tennis star for comment.

Djokovic has won nine Australian Open men’s singles titles, more than anyone in history. He is signed up to play in the 2023 edition next month.

The Australian Open saga

Djokovic’s high-profile visa saga overshadowed the Australian Open earlier this year, pitting one of tennis’s biggest stars against the Australian government and dividing opinion in the country, which had enacted tough border restrictions over the pandemic.

The Serb’s visa was revoked by the government shortly after he arrived in Melbourne on January 5 because he had not been vaccinated against covid-19.

Djokovic said he was under the impression he was allowed to enter the country because two independent panels associated with Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government had granted him a waiver on the grounds that he had been infected with the virus a few weeks before his arrival.

Novak Djokovic

File photo. Djokovic arrived in Serbia in January 2022 after the Australian Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play at the Australian Open. (Christopher Pike/Reuters)

But the federal government argued that was not a valid reason for an exemption under its rules.

A judge later ruled that border agents had been “unreasonable” when they canceled Djokovic’s visa and ordered his release from an immigration detention center.

But his visa was revoked a second time and after losing his bid to challenge the decision, the tennis star left Australia.

Despite his return to action in selected tournaments after the ordeal, the player’s covid-19 vaccination stance restricted his participation in other tournaments.

In July, Djokovic won his 21st Grand Slam title, beating Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final.

— ‘s Angus Watson, Rhea Mogul and Jacob Lev contributed to this report.

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Written by Editor TLN

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