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The first tennis major of the year, the Australian Open, starts on Monday, and Novak Djokovic plans to defend his championship for the tenth time. But before the world’s top-ranked men’s player can focus on breaking a 20-Grand Slam singles championship tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, he must first address his continuing visa dilemma.
The 34-year-old still faces deportation despite being one major final victory away from breaking the men’s record.
When Djokovic’s vaccine exemption was questioned upon his arrival in Melbourne, Australia, last week, his visa was revoked, but he has now won a court fight on procedural grounds, enabling him to remain in the country. Then, on Friday, his visa was canceled once again, and he now faces deportation.
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The newest twist in the drama over whether or not the athlete should be allowed to remain in Australia despite not having been vaccinated is the revelation that he lied on an immigration form.
Here’s a rundown of what happened to get us to this point:
Djokovic’s visa has been canceled for the second time on January 14, 2022, although he is expected to appeal.
Despite the fact that the opening round of the year’s first Grand Slam is rapidly approaching, Djokovic’s position remains unknown after the Australian government cancelled his visa for the second time. The visa was revoked by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who used his ministerial discretion. At 8 a.m. local time, Djokovic and his attorneys will meet with immigration authorities in Melbourne (4 p.m. ET on Friday).
Djokovic will defend his title against Kecmanovic on January 13, 2022.
Djokovic will meet fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round of the Australian Open, assuming he is permitted to compete, after a delayed draw ceremony (a tournament official refused to speak to the media on why the start time has been pushed back).
If Djokovic is forced to withdraw from the event before the order of play for Day 1 is revealed, No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev will take his place in the bracket, according to the Grand Slam Rule Book for 2022.
Djokovic explains the COVID-19 timeframe on January 12, 2022, and apologizes for a ‘administrative error.’
Djokovic’s most lengthy public remarks on the events in Australia came in the form of a social media message. Someone else shares the post as he is practicing on the main court at Rod Laver Arena for the third time after being freed from four nights in immigration detention.
The statement acknowledges a mistake on his travel declaration for Australia, which failed to indicate that he had been in multiple countries over the previous two weeks, and confesses to a “error of judgment” in participating in an interview and photo shoot in Serbia last month after testing positive for COVID-19.
Djokovic accuses his agent of ticking the erroneous box on the form, calling it a “human mistake” that was “definitely not purposeful.” He also attempted to address “continued falsehoods” regarding his travels after being sick last month, but he did not specify which errors he was referring to.
The 34-year-old is currently in limbo ahead of the year’s first tennis major, which begins on Monday, as he fears deportation. If judged in the public interest for health and safety grounds, the decision is solely at the discretion of Australia’s immigration minister.
Deportation might result in a three-year ban from entering Australia, which is a particularly frightening prospect for a player who has won almost half of his 20 Grand Slam singles championships there.
Djokovic is announced as the No. 1 seed for the Australian Open on January 11, 2022.
Djokovic is classified as the top seed for the men’s competition at the Australian Open, despite his questionable health. The event organizers use the current rankings to determine seedings, and Djokovic is rated No. 1; he has spent more weeks atop the ATP computerized rankings than any other individual in the history of the men’s professional circuit.
Daniil Medvedev is seeded second after defeating Djokovic in the US Open final last year to prevent the Serbian from winning a calendar-year Grand Slam. Alexander Zverev is at No. 3, Stefanos Tsitsipas is at No. 4, and Andrey Rublev is at No. 5.
Nadal is ranked sixth in the world. Federer will not compete in the competition while he recovers from surgery on his right knee.
Djokovic’s visa is restored on January 10, 2022, and he is freed from immigration detention.
At a virtual court session on Monday, Djokovic appealed the revocation of his visa, providing an affidavit claiming he is not COVID-19 vaccinated and claiming he did not require confirmation of vaccination since he had signs of coronavirus infection last month. People who have been infected with COVID-19 within the last six months are eligible for a temporary exemption from the vaccine requirement, according to Australian medical officials.
Djokovic’s visa is reinstated by Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly, who rules that the player was not given enough time to consult with his lawyers before the decision to deny him entry was made, and that Djokovic had provided officials at Melbourne’s airport with a medical exemption granted by Tennis Australia and two medical panels. Kelly also demands that Djokovic be released from immigration custody.
After a few hours, Djokovic practices in Melbourne Park. He frequently uses Twitter to convey his thanks and reiterate his commitment to the competition.
The Judge’s decision to reverse my visa revocation makes me happy and appreciative. Despite everything that has transpired, I want to stay and participate in the Australian Open. I traveled here to perform at one of our most significant events in front of our adoring supporters. 👇 pic.twitter.com/iJVbMfQ037
January 10, 2022 — Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole)
Following the verdict, government counsel Christopher Tran informs the court that Alex Hawke, Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs, “will examine whether to use a personal power of cancellation.”
Djokovic’s parents attend a protest in Serbia on January 9, 2022.
With their son remains in an Australian immigration detention facility, Djokovic’s parents attend a protest gathering in downtown Belgrade, Serbia. Fans of Djokovic in Serbia are eagerly awaiting the outcome of a court hearing that will determine if he will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open.
Djokovic’s visa has been revoked and his admission into Australia has been prohibited on January 6, 2022.
The 20-time major champion is refused admission to the nation and his visa is invalidated after being delayed for almost eight hours at the airport upon arrival. According to the Australian Border Force, Djokovic did not fulfill the entrance criteria. Djokovic’s medical exemption, which was anticipated to protect him from the severe COVID-19 vaccination requirements in force, was reviewed by border authorities who looked “at the integrity and the evidence behind it,” according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.
“Rules are rules, particularly when it comes to our borders,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison writes.
The visa of Mr. Djokovic has been revoked. Particularly when it comes to our borders, regulations are rules. No one is exempt from the rules. We continue to remain watchful because to our strict border procedures, which have contributed to Australia having one of the lowest COVID mortality rates in the world.
January 5, 2022 — Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP)
The tennis player is taken to a motel in Carlton, an inner-northern district of Melbourne, where he would spend four nights as an immigration prisoner. Outside the hotel, fans assemble in protest.
Jelena Djokovic, Djokovic’s wife, took to Twitter to express her feelings about the issue.
Thank you, lovely people, for using your voices to transmit love to my husband all around the globe. I’m taking a deep breath to relax and find appreciation (and understanding) for all that is occurring right now.
January 7, 2022 — Jelena Djokovic (@jelenadjokovic)
Djokovic lands at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport on January 5, 2022.
While Djokovic’s trip to Melbourne is in the air, a public uproar erupts on social media among Australians. According to the Melbourne daily The Age, Djokovic arrives at Tullamarine Airport about midnight local time on Wednesday, but his arrival is delayed due to a visa application error.
Novak Djokovic is being kept in a room with police at the front, according to his father.
Djokovic announces his trip to Australia with a medical exemption on January 4, 2022.
After acquiring a medical exemption from being vaccinated against COVID-19, Djokovic announces that he will play in the tennis season’s first Grand Slam tournament. On Instagram, he publishes a picture of himself at an airport with the comment “I’m headed Down Under with an exemption permit.” Tennis Australia then issued a statement announcing that Djokovic had been given a medical exemption, which was “approved after a rigorous evaluation process including two different independent panels of medical experts.”
Djokovic and Tennis Australia remain tight-lipped about the reason for his exemption. Out of 26 petitions from players or others, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley claims just a “handful” of exemptions have been granted.
Tiley is quizzed about Djokovic’s situation on January 1, 2022.
When questioned about Djokovic’s participation in the Australian Open, tournament director Craig Tiley said, “There’s quite a bit to play out and I believe it will play out in the coming days.”
Djokovic withdraws from the ATP Cup on December 29, 2021.
Djokovic withdraws from Serbia’s ATP Cup squad only days before the tournament begins in Sydney. There is no explanation offered.
“Novak Djokovic has officially withdrawn from the ATP Cup in Sydney,” a Tennis Australia spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We have no news as yet on his intentions for the Australian Open.”
Djokovic tests negative on December 22, 2021.
Djokovic tested negative for COVID-19 in Serbia, according to court records.
Djokovic performs an interview and picture session for L’Equipe on December 18, 2021.
Djokovic has an interview and picture session with the French publication L’Equipe despite the fact that he tested positive. “On retrospect, this was a mistake of judgment,” he admits weeks later.
Djokovic will be in Belgrade on December 17, 2021.
The nine-time Australian Open winner attends a ceremony recognizing young tennis players in Belgrade, Serbia. Parents publish images of Djokovic with the young players sans masks on social media. Djokovic subsequently claimed he was asymptomatic, had done a negative antigen test before to the event, and only obtained a positive PCR result afterward.
Djokovic tests positive on Dec. 16, 2021.
Djokovic tests positive for COVID-19 in Serbia, but the results aren’t made public until court records are released in January. He then claims that he didn’t find out the outcome until December 17th.
Djokovic watches a basketball game on December 14, 2021.
In Belgrade, Serbia, the tennis star attends a professional basketball game. He is shown embracing a number of players from both teams, including several who tested positive for COVID-19 later on.
Merlino talks about medical exemptions on December 8, 2021.
Medical exemptions for the vaccination policy, according to Victoria state Deputy Premier James Merlino, would not constitute a “loophole for wealthy tennis players” and would only be granted in “rare situations, such as if you have an emergency medical problem.”
All Australian Open players must be immunized before November 19, 2021, according to Tiley.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said everyone at the 2022 Australian Open must be vaccinated for COVID-19, confirming an instruction issued by the Victorian state government in late October. At the moment, Djokovic’s vaccination status was unclear.
The Adria Tour is canceled in June 2020, and Djokovic signs a deal. COVID-19
After playing in a series of exhibition matches he staged in Serbia and Croatia with no social distancing or masking necessary during the coronavirus epidemic, Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Adria Tour has been canceled because Djokovic has tested positive for the disease after competing in matches in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia.
Djokovic says he’s keeping an open mind’ on vaccines until April 2020.
“Personally, I am opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn’t want to be compelled to take a vaccine in order to be allowed to travel,” Djokovic says in a Facebook Live as the coronavirus epidemic rages. But if it becomes mandatory, I’ll have to decide whether or not to participate.”
This article was written with the help of the Associated Press.
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