Serbian tennis great Novak Djokovic is reportedly set to be given a huge boost over his Australian Open 2023 participation chances. The 21-time Grand Slam winner, who had missed the tournament last year over a visa issue, is likely to be given the nod this time despite still maintaining the same stance over Covid-19 vaccination. The Australian government is said to have decided to grant the unvaccinated Serb a visa, said national broadcaster ABC and a few other media outlets. Last year, a legal battle over Djokovic’s vaccination status prevented him from playing in this year’s tournament in Melbourne.
The media reports suggest that current Immigration Minister Andrew Giles will allow the world No. 8 to compete at this summer’s Australian Open. Australian Open director Craig Tiley also spoke on the matter, but suggested that ‘no preferential treatment’ will be given to anyone.
“There’s a normal visa application process that everyone is going through right now, and everyone will go through the right timing,” Tiley told AAP earlier on Tuesday. “I don’t think there should be any preferential treatment for anyone.
“But I fully expect to have an answer for everyone by the time that they need to book their flights and come in, including Novak.
“That’s entirely up to the Australian government. I know Novak wants to come and play and to get back to competing.
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“He loves Australia and it’s where he’s had the best success but the timing (on any announcement) is up to somebody else and we’ll just play that one by ear.
“He understands the circumstances and everything but he’s got to work it out with the federal government. I’m confident they’ll reach some arrangement and hopefully it’s positive.”
In January this year, Djokovic’s visa was cancelled despite him reaching Australia for the Grand Slam. Only hours before, he had flaunted his “exemption permission” on Instagram.
Australia has since lifted its requirement for visitors to show proof of vaccination against Covid.
Djokovic’s three-year ban can be overturned at the discretion of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s centre-left government, which is different to the conservative coalition in power when he was kicked out.
Last month, Australian Open chief Craig Tiley said he had spent time with Djokovic recently and the Serbian wanted to return for the first major of the year in January in Melbourne.
“What we’re saying at this point is that Novak and the federal government need to work out the situation. And then we’ll follow any instruction after that,” Tiley told The Age newspaper at the tournament’s official launch.
“I did spend some time with Novak at the Laver Cup. We spoke generally. He said that he’d obviously love to come back to Australia but he knows it’s going to be an ultimate decision for the federal government.
“He’s accepted that position. It’s a private matter between them.”
With AFP inputs
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