Djokovic visa decision hinted after world No 1 included in Australian Open draw

Novak Djokovic will not be allowed to stay in Australia to compete in the Australian Open unless he can substantiate a medical exemption allowing him to remain unvaccinated against Covid, said Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.

Djokovic received a visa on 18 November and landed in Melbourne on 5 January after he was awarded an exemption by both Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer and an independent expert panel from the Victorian state government.

However, Djokovic was detained and his visa cancelled after his recent Covid infection – claimed to have been on 16 December – was deemed insufficient for an exemption from Australia’s strict vaccination requirements.

Following the Serb’s successful appeal on Monday, the Australian government agreed to revoke their decision to cancel his visa. However, Djokovic’s fate will be decided by immigration minister Alex Hawke, who can personally intervene and decide to cancel his visa anyway – which would see Djokovic banned from Australia for three years.

On Thursday, Morrison suggested Hawke was still considering whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa. The prime minister said people coming to Australia must be double vaccinated.

Asked whether non-citizen non-residents who are not double vaccinated were a risk to public health, Morrison said: “All I will simply say is the reason we have had since 15 December, where fully vaccinated eligible visa holders could travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption … that individual has to show they are double vaccinated or must provide acceptable proof that they can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.

“That’s the policy, that policy hasn’t changed… of course we would expect authorities to be implementing the policy of the government when it comes to those matters.”

Morrison added that a visa does not guarantee a non-citizen non-resident fulfilled the conditions to enter Australia.

“They may have acquired a visa recently, they may have acquired a visa some time ago and be returning, when some of these issues weren’t extant at that time,” he said.

“That’s why it’s important to distinguish between the visa and the condition to enter the border. They’re not one and the same thing and they’re often conflated and shouldn’t be.

“If you’re not a citizen or resident, then the health rules we have in place to protect our borders [apply] – and our border protection policies have been central to the government’s achievements when it comes [to Covid] and Australia’s achievements generally in having one of the lowest death rates.”

The world number admitted to making mistakes on his entry declaration form and interacting with others while knowingly infected with Covid. The Australian Border Force is also investigating Djokovic following concerns he incorrectly declared he had not travelled – and would not do so for two weeks – prior to his flight to Australia.

Social media posts appear to show the Serb in Belgrade on Christmas Day before flying Down Under from Spain on January 4.

The declaration is accompanied with a warning that giving false or misleading information is a ‘serious offence’, also punishable by civil penalties. Djokovic addressed the declaration, claiming it was an ‘administrative mistake’ made by his agent.

Djokovic is eyeing a record 10th Australian Open title, while he could move clear of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and onto 21 Grand Slam wins – the most men’s major singles title in history.

After his successful appeal on Monday, Djokovic returned to training in Melbourne, with doors locked and only his support team allowed to accompany him at the Rod Laver Arena.

Australian Open qualifying began on January 10, with the full tournament kicking off a week later and concluding on January 30.

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