Novak Djokovic visa and Australian Open 2022

David Beckam
Novak Djokovic takes a break during a practice session in Melbourne on January 13.
Novak Djokovic takes a break during a practice session in Melbourne on January 13. (Mike Frey/AFP/Getty Images)

Though Novak Djokovic’s visa was reinstated on Monday and he was released from detention, Australia’s immigration minister could still revoke his visa again and begin deportation proceedings.

As he awaits a decision on whether he can remain in Australia, Djokovic on Thursday was drawn against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round of the Australian Open.

Why Djokovic was detained: All international arrivals to Australia are required to be vaccinated — which Djokovic is not — unless they have a medical exemption. The government argued he didn’t have a valid exemption to the requirement.

Djokovic said he was under the impression he could enter because tournament organizers had granted him a medical exemption on the grounds he had been infected with Covid-19 in December, his visa had been approved ahead of arrival, and he had been cleared for quarantine-free travel.

Why the judge ruled in his favor: The government hadn’t given Djokovic enough advance notice about the cancellation of his visa or time to prepare materials in his defense, the judge said. After his arrival, Djokovic was told he would have a few hours to prepare — but the government decided to cancel his visa before the deadline they had given.

When: Djokovic tested positive in mid-December, and recovered enough to receive a medical exemption from Tennis Australia on December 30, according to court documents. He arrived in Australia on January 5, and was promptly placed in detention. He was released on Monday, January 10. The tournament runs from January 17-30.

What happens now?: Australia’s immigration minister could still revoke Djokovic’s visa again and begin deportation proceedings. But it is unclear when such a decision could come. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison batted away a question from a reporter about Novak Djokovic’s visa status at a news conference in Canberra on Thursday.

Morrison was asked why a decision hadn’t been made yet on whether the Australian government would revoke Djokovic’s reinstated visa.

“I refer to Mr. Hawke’s most recent statement and that position hasn’t changed,” he said, referring to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who could still decide to deport Djokovic. “These are personal ministerial powers able to be administered by Minister Hawke, and I don’t propose to make any further comment at this time.”

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