Sunday, March 26, 2023

Almost one year after deportation, Djokovic returns to Australia 

Djokovic is back in Australia almost a year after he was held for days before being deported due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

• December 28, 2022

Tennis player Novak Djokovic is back in Australia almost a year after he was held for days before being deported due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 during the critical phase of the pandemic.

Almost 12 months ago, Djokovic was involved in a controversial tussle with the Australian government after he was held for five days by the immigration authorities in the country before being deported and barred from Australia for the next three years.

Before the incident, the Serb was granted special permission to compete at the 2021 Australian Open. But the decision quickly backfired when residents subjected to harsh COVID-19 restrictions became critical of the decision to allow Djokovic into the country despite his refusal to be vaccinated.

It was ruled that he did not meet the requirements to be exempted from providing a vaccination certificate upon arrival to Australia, resulting in anti-vaccination protest in the country in which Djokovic was criticised for playing a part in it.

During his detention, the nine-time Australian Open champion launched several unsuccessful legal battles against the decision to deny him entry into the country, with the highest court sealing his deportation order.

With the Australian government’s decision to lift its requirements for visitors to show proof of vaccination, Djokovic has now arrived in the country to compete in this year’s Open after his initial three-year ban was suspended in November.

The 35-year-old, who remains unvaccinated, will begin his preparation for the championship on Sunday when he takes part in the Adelaide International.

“We welcome him back to Australia. I think as we speak, he’s landing in Adelaide, and I think that he is going to be again the player to beat,” Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said. “I have a great deal of confidence in the Australian public. I have a lot of confidence that the fans will react how we hope they will react.”

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