Djokovic three-year visa ban could end early: Australia PM

- BBC News

Djokovic three-year visa ban could end early: Australia PM

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for Novak Djokovic to return to the country sooner than initially anticipated.

The mens tennis world number one was deported on Sunday after losing a visa battle to remain in Australia.

Under Australias immigration laws, Djokovic cannot be granted another visa for three years.

However, Mr Morrison said Djokovic could be allowed entry into Australia sooner under the "right circumstances."

"Im not going to pre-condition any of that or say anything that would not enable the (Immigration) minister to make the various calls he has to make," Mr Morrison told Australian radio station 2GB earlier on Monday morning.

"(The ban) does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity to return in the right circumstances, and that will be considered at the time."

Australian law provides there are compelling or compassionate reasons for the three-year visa ban to be waived. If the exemption is granted, it means Djokovic could compete in the next Australian Open.

Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, was forced to leave the country after judges upheld a decision by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel his visa on grounds of "health and good order.

The decision marked the end of a tumultuous 10-day saga where the Serb fought to stay to defend his title in the Australian Open.

Djokovic has been originally granted a medical exemption to enter Australia by two different independent health panels - one commissioned by Tennis Australia, the other by the state government of Victoria - after testing positive for coronavirus in mid-December.

But the players attempt to enter the country without being vaccinated stoked public anger in Australia.

The Australian Border Force then detained him on 5 January for not meeting federal coronavirus requirements, and his visa was revoked.

A judge overturned that decision last Monday, but the government stepped in several days later to revoke the visa again, on the grounds of public interest.

Judges later upheld the governments decision, leaving the Serb with no other option but to leave the country.

Meanwhile, the Australia Open kicked off in Melbourne on Monday with Germanys Tatjana Maria striking the first serve on Rod Laver Arena against Greeces Maria Sakkari.

Djokovics sudden departure from the tournament has scuppered his hopes of making history with a 21st Grand Slam victory, possibly gifting Rafael Nadal the chance to instead be first to reach the milestone.

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