Government's huge admission about Novak Djokovic return to Australia

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Alex Hawke and Novak Djokovic, pictured here in Australia.
Alex Hawke says he will consider lifting Novak Djokovic's three-year ban from Australia. Image: AAP/Getty

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has admitted he will consider lifting the three-year ban placed on Novak Djokovic after the cancellation of his visa.

Djokovic is automatically banned from Australia for the next three years after being deported in the lead-up to the Australian Open last month.

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The World No.1 was initially granted entry into the country despite being unvaccinated, but Hawke later used his discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic's visa.

Djokovic and Tennis Australia believed the Serb was eligible for a medical exemption to enter the country because he had been infected with Covid-19 in December.

But despite winning a Federal Circuit Court case, Djokovic was later deported upon Hawke's personal intervention on the grounds that the tennis superstar's perceived position could incite anti-vaccination protests.

Under Australian immigration law, the 34-year-old's expulsion carries a three-year ban from re-entering the country.

Anyone expelled from the country for three years following an adverse decision under section 133C(3), can apply for a waiver under "compelling" or "compassionate" circumstances.

When asked if the 20-time grand slam champion would be allowed back into Australia, Hawke on Wednesday said: "The future for Mr Djokovic is his to decide on how he conducts himself and what he does internationally.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic after being deported from Australia.
Novak Djokovic with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade after being deported from Australia. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

"The Australian government has no further role in what he chooses to do."

Asked if the three-year ban would be waived, Hawke said: "It means that a future decision-maker makes that (call) when receiving an application.

"It's an important principle of law that I don't bind a future decision-maker.

"We have indicated we would consider that, in the same way we would consider any others. We are very open to the consideration."

Novak Djokovic won't get vaccinated to play tennis

But even if the three-year ban is lifted, Djokovic likely won't be able to get into Australia if he remains unvaccinated.

While he said he was open to being vaccinated, Djokovic was unequivocal in his stance during his first interview since the summer-long saga cruelled his chances of winning a 10th Australian Open last month.

Asked by the BBC if he was prepared to skip his French Open and Wimbledon title defences this year rather than being forced to get vaccinated, Djokovic said: "Yes. That is the price I am willing to pay."

"I say that everybody has the right to choose or act or say or feel whatever is appropriate for them."

Djokovic said he would forego the chance to play tournaments "because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else.

"I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can."

Djokovic also distanced himself from the anti-vaccination movement.

"I have never said I'm part of that movement," he said.

"It's really unfortunate that there has been this kind of misconception and wrong conclusion based upon something that I completely disagree with".

He told the broadcaster he was "keeping (his) mind open" to the possibility of getting vaccinated in the future "because we are all trying to find collectively, a best possible solution to end Covid".

"I was never against vaccination. I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus."

with AAP

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