Novak Djokovic Wins Court Case to Stay in Australia; Government May Cancel Visa Again

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 10, 2022

FILE - Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Croatia's Marin Cilic during their Davis Cup tennis semi-final match at Madrid Arena in Madrid, Spain, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. An Australian judge reinstated tennis star Novak Djokovic's visa Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, which was canceled last week because he is unvaccinated. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)
AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File

An Australian federal judge reinstated Novak Djokovic's visa on Monday, which may allow him to play in the 2022 Australian Open.

Federal Circuit Court judge Anthony Kelly also ruled that Djokovic should be released from an Australian quarantine hotel. The Serb, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, applied for a medical exemption to enter Australia for the tournament because he was infected with the virus in December.

Australian law requires proof of vaccination or proof of infection within the past six months in order for someone to enter the country.

"I'm pleased and grateful that the judge overturned my visa cancellation," Djokovic said in a statement. "Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete at the Australian Open. I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans."

Djokovic was initially granted a visa before it was rescinded over questions about the validity of his exemption claim. There was significant public outcry in Australia and abroad about the men's world No. 1 potentially getting special treatment because of his celebrity status. Officials denied there was any preference given, but Djokovic's visa wound up being challenged on merit because he did not have an "acute major medical illness," as required by law.

Djokovic provided a medical exemption from Tennis Australia and two medical panels, leading Kelly to rule in his favor.

"The point I'm somewhat agitated about is, what more could this man have done?'' Kelly said.

Alex Hawke, Australia's Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, plans to consider canceling Djokovic's visa under personal power. If Djokovic's visa is canceled, he will not be allowed to reenter Australia for three years.

The Australian Open begins Jan. 17, and Djokovic is the No. 1 seed in the men's bracket.