Novak Djokovic arrives in Australia nearly a year after COVID-19 vaccine saga, deportation
Nearly a year after being deported for his COVID-19 Vaccine Status, Novak Djokovic is back in Australia looking for a 10th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
tennis australia confirmed on Wednesday that Djokovic touched down in Adelaide the night before to compete at the 2023 Adelaide International, which begins on Sunday, and the Australian Open, which begins early next month.
“Novak is welcome in Australia”, australian open tournament director Craig Tiley said at a news conference on Tuesday. “I think as we speak, he’s landed in Adelaide, and he’s going to be the player to beat (at the Australian Open) again.”
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Landing in Melbourne early last year, Djokovic’s visa was canceled by border officials who said he did not qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors.
He was previously exempt from the tournament’s vaccination rules because he had COVID in the previous six months. He later won an appeal to stay in the tournament, but Australia’s immigration minister revoked his visa.
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Three federal court judges ruled in favor of the immigration minister’s right to cancel Djokovic’s visa, and he was deported.
Djokovic has openly defended his choice not to receive the vaccine, regardless of the tournaments in 2022 that allow him to compete. He competed in the open french in May, when he lost in the quarterfinals to Rafael Nadal and won Wimbledon for his 21st Grand Slam title.
The Serbian tennis pro was unable to travel to the US to compete in the us open due to travel restrictions, not tournament rules.
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Tiley said on Tuesday that he expects Djokovic to be well received by the Australian fans.
“We are a very well-educated sports audience, particularly those who come to tennis. They love their tennis, they love to see greatness, they love to see great athletics, great matches. And I am very confident that the fans will.” react how we expect them to react and have respect for that.”
The Australian Open begins in Melbourne on January 16.
Associated Press contributed to this report.