Sunday, January 23, 2022

Australian Open 2022: Novak Djokovic gets visa reinstated, but tournament status still unclear


Novak Djokovic can remain in Australia. Whether he will be able to play in the Australian Open is still unclear, though. The tennis star’s visa was reinstated by Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly on Monday. This comes after Djokovic had his visa cancelled because officials stated that he didn’t qualify for a medical exemption for a rule that requires non-Australian residents to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enter the country.

Djokovic is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Kelly ruled that the tennis star wasn’t given enough time to speak to his lawyers the night before his visa was cancelled. Djokovic then had to quarantine at a Melbourne hotel for four days until Monday’s decision was revealed. Furthermore, Australian medical authorities had previously ruled that a temporary exemption around the COVID-19 vaccination rule could be allowed to people who had been infected with COVID-19 within six months of arrival.

According to the Associated Press, government lawyer Christopher Tran told the judge that the immigration minister “will consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation.” What that means is that if the government does pursue further legal action, Djokovic could be deported and would miss the Australian Open, which is slated to get underway on Jan. 17. 

In addition, he would be banned from entering Australian for three years. It all depends on if further action is taken.

Djokovic celebrated Monday’s ruling by tweeting out a photo of himself on the courts and ready to train.

Djokovic initially announced that he was granted a medical exemption from tournament organizers to participate in the Australian Open. But his exemption to play in the tournament — despite being unvaccinated — caused outrage throughout the country upon his arrival earlier in January, and the situation came to a head last Wednesday. 

According to Australian Open organizers, Djokovic didn’t benefit from any “special favor” after receiving a medical exemption. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley stated that 26 unvaccinated players applied for the medical exemption and that only a “handful” were granted.

If Djokovic is able to participate in the Australian Open, he has a chance to win his 21st Grand Slam title. He is currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam singles titles in men’s history with 20. Nadal will be participating in the Australian Open after recently testing positive for COVID-19. Federer won’t be taking part in the event as he is recovering from knee surgery.

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