Novak Djokovic has spoken about his delight after the federal government in Australia overturned his visa ban to enable him to play at the Australian Open.
The Serbian, currently in action at the year-ending Nitto ATP Finals, was deported just before the 2022 edition started and saw his visa cancelled “in the public interest”.
However, reports on Tuesday suggested Immigration Minister Andrew Giles would allow Djokovic a visa, overturning his automatic three-year ban.
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The decision has been confirmed by the BBC. Djokovic has now given his reaction to Eurosport in Turin.
"In terms of your next question related to Australia, yes I received the news yesterday morning and I was very, very happy to hear that news," Djokovic told Eurosport at the ATP Finals.
"It has been a tough year with everything that happened, obviously, in Australia for me and for the people who are close in my life.
"This came as a great new year present, I think, and I am looking forward to going to Australia and hopefully having another successful Australian Open, that has been historically my most successful Grand Slam.
"I had some of my best memories on that court. Hopefully, I can make more positive memories there."
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Australian Open director Craig Tiley said on Tuesday that he never expected “preferential treatment” for the player but that he knew "Novak wants to come and play and to get back to competing".
Australian travel rules now state that you do not need proof of a Covid-19 vaccine to travel to and from the country, which is in stark contrast to the rules in place when Djokovic, who is not vaccinated for Covid-19, was deported following a lengthy saga in January.
The immigration minister at the time, Alex Hawke, had cancelled Djokovic’s visa, and described the player as a “talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment”, adding there could be “civil unrest” if he was allowed to remain in Melbourne and participate in the tournament.
Djokovic attempted to explain his perspective on Covid vaccinations in an interview with the BBC in February.
"I was never against vaccination," he said. “I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus.
“Vaccination is probably the biggest effort. I fully respect that. But I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put into your body. For me, that is essential, it’s really the principle of understanding what is right and what is wrong for you.
“As an elite professional athlete, I’ve always carefully reviewed and assessed everything that comes in from supplements, food, water, anything that comes into my body as fuel. Based on all the information that I got, I decided against the vaccine.”
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