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Melbourne, Australia – Novak Djokovic is expected to get a visa to play next year’s Australian Open despite his high-profile expulsion in January.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. said Tuesday that she had confirmed newspaper reports that the immigration minister had overturned a potential three-year debarment period for Djokovic.

The Australian Border Force has previously said an exclusion period can be waived in certain circumstances – and each case will be assessed on its merits.

Minister of Immigration André Gilles‘ declined to comment for privacy reasons, meaning any announcement on Djokovic’s visa status would have to come from the 35-year-old Serbian tennis star.

The 21-time Grand Slam singles champion was barred from defending his Australian Open title this year after a tumultuous 10-day legal saga over his COVID-19 vaccination status that resulted in the dismissal of his visa on the eve of the tournament.

Djokovic arrived at Melbourne airport as the world’s top-ranked tennis player on a visa he had obtained online and what he believed to be a valid medical exemption from the country’s strict laws for non-travellers. vaccinated, as it has been approved by Tennis Australia and the state government of Victoria, which hosts the tournament.

Confusion reigned, generating global headlines. It turned out that this medical exemption allowed him to enter the tournament, which required all players, fans and officials to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but not necessarily to enter the country. He was rejected by the Australian Border Force.

Alex Hawke, Australia’s immigration minister at the time, used discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa on character grounds, saying he was a “talisman of an anti-vaccine sentiment community”.

Australia changed governments and modified its border rules this year and, as of July 6, inbound travelers no longer have to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. This removed the main barrier to entry for Djokovic.

This allowed her to ask Giles to reconsider her visa status. In his favour, Djokovic left Australia soon after his visa was revoked and did not publicly criticize the Australian authorities.

As the Home Office website explains, applicants in Djokovic’s situation must explain in writing to the Australian border authorities why the exclusion period should be waived – “you must show us that there are circumstances compassionate or compelling to overturn your re-entry ban and grant you the visa.

Djokovic said at the ATP Finals in Italy on Monday that his lawyers were contacting the Australian government regarding his participation in the Australian Open from January 16-29.

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