Novak Djokovic himself is yet to make an official announcement, but all indications point to a return to the Australian Open and naturally the politicians have weighed in on the decision to overturn the 21-time Grand Slam winner’s visa ban.
Nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic was infamously deported from Australia at the beginning of 2022 as he missed his title defence at the season-opening Grand Slam at Melbourne Park after his visa was revoked on the back of being unvaccinated against Covid-19.
He spent several days in an immigration facility and was involved in a 10-day legal drama, but was ultimately forced to leave the country after the then minister of immigration, Alex Hawke, used his personal powers to revoke his visa for a second time.
It resulted in an automatic three-year visa ban, but Australia held their general elections in May and the Australian Labor Party replaced the Liberal/National Coalition.
New Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has overturned the ban, but the announcement is expected to come from Djokovic, who last spoke to the media at the ATP Finals in Turin on Monday as he revealed that he was “still waiting for official news”.
Peter Dutton, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, has welcomed the decision, but he hopes the 21-time Grand Slam winner shows some remorse.
“I think it’s appropriate that Novak’s invited here,” he told Sky News.
“We’re going to have a great Australian Open. It’s always a great sporting event for Melbourne, for our country.
“I suspect that in hindsight I hope that Mr Djokovic has some regret about some elements of his conduct and the rest.
“But the fact is that we’re a couple of years down the track now and it will be good to see him playing great tennis here in Australia.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who famously told Djokovic to “get vaccinated” if he wants to enter the country earlier this year, is happy to welcome the “best tennis players” back to Melbourne for the hard-court major next year.
“The Commonwealth government issues visas so it’s a matter for them. We don’t issue visas in Victoria,” Mr Andrews said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“The Australian Open is a fantastic event… Only four cities with Grand Slam tennis.
“You want the best tennis players there. We had a one-in-100 year event. COVID exceptionalism is over.”
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