Novak Djokovic could be allowed to return to Australia next year after the country’s prime minister said the tennis star’s ban could be reduced.
Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday after a court hearing upheld the decision to cancel his visa “on health and good order grounds”.
Australia immigration laws mean that Djokovic would be unable to apply for another visa for a three-year period following the decision.
But the country’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has said that Djokovic could return sooner than anticipated as it is possible that the ban can be waived if there are deemed to be compelling reasons.
“[The ban] does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for them to return in the right circumstances and that would be considered at the time,” Morrison told radio station 2GB.
Djokovic, who is unvaccinated for Covid-19, is set to face further difficulties competing in major tennis events in the United States of America and France due to their strict regulations on Covid vaccines.
On Sunday, France’s sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said players will need to be vaccinated to compete in the French Open in May.
In a statement following the decision to revoke his visa, which came one day before Djokovic was set to defend his Australian Open title, the 34-year-old said: “I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.
“I am extremely disappointed with the court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open.”
The governing body for the men’s professional tour, the ATP, said: “The decision to uphold Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events. Ultimately, decisions of legal authorities regarding matters of public health must be respected.
“More time is required to take stock of the facts and to take the learnings from this situation.
“Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport’s greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game. We know how turbulent the recent days have been for Novak and how much he wanted to defend his title in Melbourne. We wish him well and look forward to seeing him back on court soon.”
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