Novak Djokovic Visa Cancellation to Be Reviewed After 2022 Australian Open

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 18, 2022

FILE - Defending champion Serbia's Novak Djokovic practices ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 13, 2022. Weary after two years of some of the harshest COVID-19 border restrictions in the world, many Australians wanted Djokovic kicked out of their country for traveling to the tennis tournament without being vaccinated. But the backdrop to the government's tough line on the defending Australian Open champion and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s description of the expulsion as a "decision to keep our borders strong" dates to nearly a decade ago. It also shines a light on Australia's complicated, and strongly criticized, immigration and border policies. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)
AP Photo/Mark Baker, File

Tennis Australia announced Tuesday that it will review the process that saw world No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic's visa canceled before Monday's start of the Australian Open.

Tennis Australia issued the following statement:

"We recognize that recent events have been a significant distraction for everyone, and we deeply regret the impact this had on all players.

"There are always lessons to learn, and we will review all aspects of our preparation and implementation to inform our planning--as we do every year. That process always starts once the Australian Open champions have lifted their trophies."

The statement didn't mention Djokovic by name, but the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion was not permitted to compete in this year's Aussie Open after his visa was canceled by the Australian government because he has not received a COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic was given a medical exemption by Tennis Australia and the state of Victoria on the grounds that he tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Following an initial cancellation of Djokovic's visa by Australian officials, the nine-time Australian Open champion was detained at an immigration detention during a legal battle that went on for 11 days.

After Djokovic won an appeal, his visa was canceled a second time, and a three-judge panel rejected the appeal of that decision.

With Djokovic out of the tournament, the Australian Open is without the No. 1 men's player in the world and the three-time defending champion.

His absence leaves world No. 5 Rafael Nadal as the biggest star in the draw by virtue of his 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

However, the favorite may be world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who beat Djokovic in the U.S. Open final last year.

Djokovic's absence could also open the door for Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas or Andrey Rublev to win his first Grand Slam title.

Nole's focus will shift toward the French Open, which is the next scheduled Grand Slam, in May. He may not be eligible to play unless he gets vaccinated, though, after the French Sports Ministry announced that no exemptions will be given for the country's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for people to enter public places, including sports venues.