Novak Djokovic's visa saga set to end, paving way for Australian Open return

According to local media reports, Novak Djokovic will soon be able to put his protracted visa saga behind him and take his place in the field for the 2023 Australian Open.

The nine-time champion was deported from the country at the start of the year over his unvaccinated status, resulting in an automatic three-year Australian visa ban.

Despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19, Djokovic flew Down Under believing he would be allowed to play as he had a medical exemption to compete.

However, he was detained upon arrival as his visa was revoked, he then spent time at an asylum facility and was also involved in two court cases. After winning the first court case, his visa was overturned for a second time as then-immigration minister Alex Hawke felt he would "excite anti-vax sentiment".

After judges upheld Hawke's ruling, he was forced to leave Australia and missed the hard-court Grand Slam.

The country has since had a change of government, however, with the Australian Labor Party taking charge, and new Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has scrapped his three-year entry ban, paving the way for the Serbian to play at the season-opening Grand Slam which starts on January 16.

Australia also dropped its Covid-19 vaccine mandate a few months ago and the Guardian Australia reports that Giles "will give Djokovic a visa, overturning a three-year ban that accompanied the decision by the previous government to cancel his visa on the eve of the 2022 open".

Just yesterday the 21-time Grand Slam winner, who also missed the 2022 US Open and several other tournaments in North America as a result of his unvaccinated status, admitted that he is still awaiting official news from Australia.

"Nothing official yet. We are waiting. They are communicating with the government of Australia. That's all I can tell you for now," he said after his win over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Finals.

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley has previously made it clear that they will welcome Djokovic with open arms.

"I know Novak wants to come and play and to get back to competing," he said. "He loves Australia and it's where he's had the best success."

However, not everyone has been supportive of scrapping the ban as Australia's Shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews felt it would be a "slap in the face" of Australians.

"I don't think there is any reason it should be overturned simply because someone has a lot of money," she told ABC Radio Melbourne.

She added: "So the government would clearly need to look at everyone else in these circumstances who would have had a visa cancelation and see whether or not they should be allowed into the country as well.

"It shouldn't be one rule for Novak Djokovic and a different rule for everyone else who is not worth millions."

Latest news