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A year after being deported, Novak Djokovic gets a visa to play in the Australian Open

Tennis player Novak Djokovic looking skyward
Tennis star Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Russia’s Andrej Rublev at the ATP World Tour Finals in Turin, Italy, on Wednesday.
(Antonio Calanni / Associated Press)
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The Australian government confirmed Thursday that tennis player Novak Djokovic has been granted a visa to compete in the Australian Open in January, a year after he was deported over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic did not compete in this year’s Australian Open after he had his visa canceled on public interest grounds Jan. 14. The 21-time Grand Slam singles champion then lost an appeal against deportation in the Full Federal Court.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said he had approved Djokovic’s application to revoke the cancellation decision because the grounds for canceling the visa no longer existed. The visa ban could have lasted for three years.

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“Mr. Djokovic has subsequently been granted a temporary visa to enter Australia,” Giles said in a statement.

The 35-year-old from Serbia is clear to compete at the Australian Open, which runs from Jan. 16-29 in Melbourne.

Djokovic is playing at the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy, this week, and said he was informed of the Australian government’s decision Tuesday.

Roger Federer officially retired Friday night after playing alongside Rafael Nadal in a doubles loss at the Lavar Cup.

Sept. 23, 2022

“I was very happy to receive the news yesterday. It was a relief, obviously, knowing what I and the people closest to me in my life have been through this year with what happened in Australia and post-Australia,” Djokovic said. “Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slam. I made some of the best memories there. Of course I want to go back there, I want to play tennis, do what I do best, hopefully have a great Australian summer.”

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

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Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he last arrived in Australia. Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Alex Hawke, Australia’s immigration minister at the time, used discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa on character grounds, stating he was a “talisman of a community of anti-vaccine sentiment.”

Carlos Alcaraz becomes the youngest U.S. Open men’s champion since Pete Sampras 32 years ago, defeating Casper Ruud in four sets.

Sept. 11, 2022

Tennis Australia said Thursday it welcomed the decision to allow Djokovic back into the country.

“We always strive to have all the best players in the world competing here in Melbourne in January and we look forward to delivering the best possible tournament for both the players and fans,” it said in a statement.

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