Thursday, January 27, 2022

Australian Open 2022: Novak Djokovic earns No. 1 seed amid visa controversy

The seeds for the 2022 Australian Open were announced on Tuesday and Novak Djokovic has been declared the No. 1 seed for the upcoming Grand Slam tournament. However, it’s still unclear if Djokovic will be allowed to participate in the Australian Open amid the controversy surrounding his visa.

Djokovic is followed by Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev to round out the top five seeds of the Australian Open men’s field. Rafael Nadal, who last played in August, will be making his return to the court in Melbourne and is the No. 6 seed. 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 (who won’t be at the Australian Open due to injury) and Nadal for the most Grand Slam singles titles in men’s history with 20. 

On Monday, it was announced that Djokovic would be allowed to remain in Australia. The tennis star’s visa was reinstated by Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly. That came 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 soon, 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. He 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.

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