Waiting game on Novak Djokovic’s visa status stretches into a second week


The fate of Novak Djokovic's run in the 2022 Australian Open remains unclear after he was drawn as the top seed for the grand slam.

The sporting and political storm over the Serbian tennis star's visa is now entering its second week with no certainty yet over his status in Australia.

There is still no word on whether the tennis great will be allowed to stay in the country for the competition, which starts on Monday.

His visa was cancelled on arrival in Melbourne early on Thursday last week because he isn't vaccinated against COVID-19.

After tweeting on January 4 that he was "heading Down Under with an exemption permission", the 34-year-old landed at Melbourne Airport late on Wednesday last week.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 50 seconds50s Novak Djokovic practises at Rod Laver Arena

But he was detained by Australian Border Force (ABF) officials, who said Djokovic did not meet the entry requirements, and cancelled his visa.

Placed in immigration detention, his visa cancellation was then overturned on appeal.

On Monday, Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly quashed the visa cancellation and ordered the 34-year-old be released and have his passport returned to him.

Since then, the tennis champion has been waiting to find out if Australia's Immigration Minister Alex Hawke will use his ministerial powers to cancel his visa again.

But Mr Hawke is yet to announce his decision, leaving the tennis world dangling.

Djokovic in Australian Open draw

With the Serb's visa status still up in the air, the Australian Open draw was delayed for more than an hour yesterday without explanation.

But officials are preparing for the start of play on Monday, with or without Djokovic.

The draw proceeded later in the afternoon, and he was drawn against fellow Serb, world number 78 Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

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Meanwhile, Djokovic trained at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena in hot, humid conditions yesterday afternoon, apparently undaunted by the ongoing political and sporting brouhaha.

As the lack of clarity persists, Djokovic's travels before his arrival in Australia and his positive COVID-19 test result on December 16 are being scrutinised.

But as the federal government continues to weigh up whether or not to cancel Djokovic's visa, the Prime Minister yesterday declined to comment on the drawn-out saga.

There had been speculation Scott Morrison would make an announcement on the Serbian star's visa status at a media conference after national cabinet, but there was no update.

"I will refer to Mr Hawke's most recent statement, and that position hasn't changed," Mr Morrison said.

"These are personal ministerial powers able to be exercised by Minister Hawke and I don't propose to make any further comment at this time."

After another day of waiting, word filtered though late yesterday that there would be no decision from Mr Hawke last night, leaving the uncertainty to linger into a second week.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news



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