Australia will overturn a three-year ban imposed on tennis player Novak Djokovic from entering the country, paving the way for the former world No.1 to compete at the 2023 Australian Open.
Australian Immigration Minister Andrew Giles will repeal the ban, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN on Tuesday.
Djokovic had to present a case to the Minister for Immigration to obtain permission to enter Australia to participate in the tournament after he was deported earlier this year for not obtaining an exemption for a then compulsory Covid-19 vaccination. .
The source said Giles will rule in favor of Djokovic, but it is up to the individual to release any personal information about the trip.
Djokovic was deported from Australia in January after former immigration minister Alex Hawke discovered he posed a risk to public health and order because, as a famous sportsman who had previously voiced his opposition at the vaccination, he could be considered an “icon” for the anti-vaxxers.
The minister’s decision to expel the player meant he would be banned from re-entry for three years.
Earlier on Tuesday, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said he hoped Djokovic would play at the Australian Open in January next year.
“There is a normal visa application process that everyone is going through right now, and everyone will go through the right time,” Tiley told Australian news agency Associated Press (AAP).
“I don’t think there should be any preferential treatment for anyone. But I expect to have an answer for everyone when they need to book their flights and come, including Novak.
Djokovic’s high-profile visa saga overshadowed the Australian Open earlier this year, pitting one of tennis’ biggest stars against the Australian government and dividing opinion in the country, which had enacted tough border restrictions in the event of a pandemic.
The government revoked the Serb’s visa shortly after he arrived in Melbourne on January 5 because he was not vaccinated against Covid-19.
Djokovic said he felt he could enter the country because two independent panels associated with Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government granted him an exemption on the grounds that he had been infected with the virus a few weeks before it arrived.
But the federal government argued that was not a valid reason for an exemption under its rules.
A judge later ruled that border officials had been “unreasonable” when they canceled Djokovic’s visa and ordered his release from a migrant detention centre.
But his visa was later revoked for a second time and after losing his application to challenge the decision, the tennis star left Australia soon after.
Despite returning to action in selected tournaments after the event, the player’s Covid-19 vaccination stance limited his participation in others.
In July, Djokovic won his 21st Grand Slam title by beating Nick Kyrgios in the final at Wimbledon.