Novak Djokovic cops bitter blow in bid to return for Australian Open

Novak Djokovic, pictured here after winning the Australian Open in 2021.
Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the Australian Open in 2021. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Australia's shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says there is no reason why Novak Djokovic should be allowed back into the country, declaring it would be a 'slap in the face' to everyone who did the right thing during the height of the pandemic.

Djokovic was sensationally deported from the country ahead of the Australian Open in January due to his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

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The 21-time grand slam champion initially gained entry into Australia before being detained by border force officials and having his visa cancelled.

The visa cancellation comes with an automatic three-year ban from the country, however the government is believed to be leaning towards waiving the ban due to the change in circumstances around Covid-19.

While Djokovic is still unvaccinated, overseas travellers no longer need to show proof of vaccination to gain entry into Australia.

But according to Ms Andrews, a move to grant Djokovic a new visa would be a 'slap in the face'.

"It would be a slap in the face for those people in Australia who did the right thing... if all of a sudden, Novak Djokovic is allowed back into the country, simply because he is a high-ranking tennis player with many millions of dollars," she told the ABC.

Ms Andrews was the Home Affairs Minister at the time of Djokovic's deportation, but is now in the shadow role due to the change in government.

"If immigration now chooses to make a special announcement for Novak Djokovic, the obvious question is what are you going to do about anyone else in similar circumstances?" she continued.

Karen Andrews, pictured here in the United States in 2021.
Karen Andrews in the United States in 2021. (Photo by LEIGH VOGEL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

"I don't think there is any reason it should be overturned simply because someone has a lot of money.

"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."

Shadow Immigration Minister Dan Tehan told Sky News Australia on Monday that the "integrity" of Australia’s borders should be the priority.

“As a tennis lover, I’d love to see him there… But the most important thing here is that we protect the integrity of our immigration system,” Mr Tehan said.

“The rules about coming into Australia have changed, you don't have to be vaccinated anymore.

“If they decide that he can come, they’ve got to do so in making that decision in a way to protect the integrity of our immigration system.”

Novak Djokovic, pictured here after being deported from Australia and returned home to Serbia.
Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia and returned home to Serbia. Image: Getty

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley revealed last week that Djokovic is keen to return to Melbourne for the 2023 Australian Open.

“I do know he’d like to return to the AO,” Tiley said.

“He’s the nine-time champion and of course we always want the best players in the world to compete.

“It’s a matter between him and the relevant federal authorities.”

Novak Djokovic opens up on deportation from Australia

Speaking earlier this year, Djokovic said his deportation was one of the toughest periods in his life.

"It's something that I never faced before," he said in May.

"This post-Australian period, the next several months was challenging emotionally for me because of a lot of different factors.

"The amount of pressure and everything that I was feeling in the first few months of the year, as much as I've felt pressure in my life and my career, that was something really on a whole different level."

Djokovic also missed the entire American hard-court season in 2021, including the US Open, due to the US and Canada still requiring proof of vaccination for overseas travellers.

He has fallen to World No.7 in the ATP rankings after missing a number of high-profile events throughout the year.

He also didn't receive any rankings points despite winning Wimbledon after the ATP and WTA stripped the grand-slam of points in retaliation to its ban on players from Russia and Belarus.

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