Novak Djokovic included in Australian Open main draw amid visa tension

The World No.1 has been drawn against his Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanović for the first round.

File photo - Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the Paris Masters; Credit: [email protected]

Defending champion Novak Djokovic has been included in the Australian Open main draw on Thursday amid tensions over his visa issue to be cleared by immigration minister stretched to another day. He has been drawn against his Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanović for the first round. However, Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke, continues to contemplate cancelling his visa and deporting the Serbian from the country after the Federal Court overturned the government’s decision to cancel the visa. Djokovic stands one major championship win away from setting the men’s record with 21 Grand Slam titles ahead of his arch-rivals and greatest of the current era Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, meanwhile, reiterated the rules set by the country to curb the spread of Covid-19 while also highlighting that Hawke remains in power to cancel his visa. 

“Where fully vaccinated eligible visa holders could travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption and enter those states, allowing them to enter quarantine-free, the individual has to show they are double vaccinated or must provide acceptable proof that they can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons,” Morrison said.

“That’s the policy, which hasn’t changed. That is the policy and we would expect authorities to be implementing the policy of the government when it comes to those matters.”

However, the past week has been nothing short of a test of character for the Serbian. His visa to enter Australia was revoked even as he wanted to participate at the Grand Slam with a medical exemption to get past the Covid-19 vaccine requirement for all players and was held in an immigration detention hotel alongside long-term asylum seekers. 

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The Federal Court only cleared him to participate in the major championship on Monday which was also a challenge of mental fortitude for the defending champion.

“We’re here to celebrate the victory of our son Novak. He always fought for justice. He’s done nothing wrong,” his mother Dijana said.

“He went there to win that tournament. This situation has been extremely difficult. There has been a spectrum of emotions: sadness, fear, disappointment. There were moments when he didn’t have his mobile with him. we had no idea what was happening. I want to thank everyone in the world who stood up and supported him in Melbourne in front of that, so-called hotel,” she added.  

“This is his biggest win in his career, it is bigger than any Grand Slam,” his mother had said after the court overturned the decision. 

But it still remains to be seen if Djokovic, who has started practising at the Rod Laver Arena, is allowed to participate in the main draw with the Hawke threat looming large. 

Sportslumo Desk

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