Novak Djokovic may be free to return to the Australian Open in January, despite being given a three-year visa ban after being expelled earlier this year.
Most important points:
- International arrivals will no longer be asked about their vaccination status from Wednesday
- The unvaccinated Djokovic was deported from Melbourne for his 2022 Australian Open defence
- His management team will consider applying for an exemption from his three-year travel ban
The new Labor government has relaxed its rules on international arrivals so that foreigners no longer have to declare their COVID-19 vaccination status.
The unvaccinated Djokovic found himself at the center of an international media frenzy when the Morrison government twice canceled his visa in January this year, with Djokovic winning one lawsuit but failing in a second before being deported.
Under Australian law, a deportation order is accompanied by a period of exclusion of up to three years.
The Ticket confirms that Djokovic’s management team is aware of the relaxation of the government’s immigration requirements. It is believed that it is considering requesting the lifting of its entry ban, as the reasons for the original visa cancellation are now outdated.
The relaxed COVID-19 restrictions will come into effect from Wednesday based on the latest medical advice, Federal Health Secretary Mark Butler said.
“The Chief Medical Officer has advised that it is no longer necessary for travelers to declare their vaccine status as part of our management of COVID,” said Mr Butler.
Djokovic was initially granted a visa to enter Australia in January this year after presenting a certificate from the Serbian health authority confirming that he had recently recovered from COVID-19, one of the few exemptions available at the time, according to the ATAGI guidelines.
On arrival at Melbourne airport, Djokovic was detained by Border Force and his visa was canceled by the then Immigration Secretary, Alex Hawke, only to be seen quashed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court.
Djokovic’s visa was canceled for a second time, with the government claiming he was a sports icon and role model, with his presence possibly sparking anti-vaccination in certain parts of the Australian community.
This is despite the government admitting in court documents that Djokovic posed a “negligible health risk” to Australians at the time and was willing to accept entering the country on a valid visa in accordance with ATAGI’s health recommendations.
Australian Open officials referred questions to the federal government.
When contacted by the ABC, the Department of Immigration said it could not comment on individual cases, but noted that “each case is judged on its own merits”.
“The migration law provides that a person whose visa has been canceled may be subject to a three-year exclusion period that prevents the granting of a new temporary visa,” a spokesperson said.
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