Djokovic in Australian Open draw but still faces threat of deportation

13 January 2022, 07:17 | Updated: 13 January 2022, 08:21

Djokovic is currently set to play in the first round of the Australian Open
Djokovic is currently set to play in the first round of the Australian Open. Picture: Getty

By Daisy Stephens

Novak Djokovic has been included in the first round of the Australian Open despite still waiting to hear whether or not he can remain in the country.

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The 34-year-old won his appeal against the Australian government but is still waiting to hear whether his visa will be revoked anyway.

But despite this he has been drawn to play against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the tournament.

Read more: 'I want to stay' says Djokovic, but bid to play in Australian Open still hangs in balance

Read more: Djokovic's wife calls for 'love and forgiveness' as tennis star held in anti-vax row

The draw, which was due to take place at 4am UK-time, was delayed to 5.15am, sparking speculation that a decision was imminent about whether the Serb could remain in the country.

But he ended up being included despite no official decision being made about his visa status.

Djokovic was dramatically detained when he arrived in Melbourne last week, because of questions over his Covid vaccination status.

He claimed to be exempt due to recently being infected with coronavirus, and went on to win his appeal on Monday.

He was freed from the detention hotel in which he spent nearly five days, and vowed to "try to compete" in the Australian Open.

Read more: Anti-vaxx tennis star Novak Djokovic breaks silence amid Covid visa row

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But there remained an option for the immigration minister Alex Hawke - he could decide to use his personal power to revoke the tennis star's visa anyway.

A decision has not yet been made, but the move would be a "nuclear option", according to Australian journalist Paul Karp.

"If they use this power he will be deported from Australia and cannot come back for three years, so as the judge observed at the end of the hearing today, the stakes have actually risen than receded because we're now talking about whether he can play in the 2022, 2023 and 2024 Australian opens," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on Monday, shortly after Djokovic won the appeal.

"It could even affect whether Australia is able to host the Australian open tournament in the next three years."

Whilst it may have been key to remaining in Australia - even if only temporarily - Djokovic's exemption landed him in hot water earlier this week.

He said he did not need his Covid vaccines to enter Australia because he had a positive Covid test on December 16.

But he then had to explain his actions after it was revealed he attended a children's tennis event on December 17, and did an interview with a French journalist on December 18.

Read more: Djokovic admits 'error of judgment' by breaking isolation rules while Covid positive

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Taking to Instagram, the 20-times grand slam winner explained he did not receive the positive result until after the tennis event on December 17.

Doing the interview on December 18 whilst knowing he had Covid was an "error of judgement", he said, admitting: "I should have rescheduled this commitment."

"I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L'Equipe interview as I didn't want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was taken," he wrote.

"While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment."

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