Novak Djokovic has been included in the draw for next week’s Australian Open, but his participation remains in doubt as the government continues to decide whether the unvaccinated tennis star can stay in the country.
The fate of the world number one for men is still in the balance. The immigration minister was considering whether to cancel his visa again, days after the court ruled that the original decision did not follow due process.
The draw for this year’s first Grand Slam was postponed by more than an hour on Thursday, with organizers admitting it was delayed. When that was completed, top seed Djokovic was drawn to face fellow Serbian Miomir Kikmanovic in the first round.
Tournament director and chief executive of Tennis Australia’s governing body, Craig Tilly, declined to answer reporters’ questions.
At about the same time, the Australian prime minister was telling a press conference that no decision had been made on Djokovic’s visa.
Scott Morrison explained the current situation regarding the epidemic in the country, where infections have risen in recent weeks with the spread of the Omicron variant, adding pressure on hospitals. Tournament attendance is restricted to 50%.
On Wednesday, Djokovic apologized for errors made on his visa application form, and for not being isolated after testing positive for COVID in December.
Controversy over the player’s vaccination status and treatment by Australian authorities has completely overshadowed the tournament in the days leading up to the event, with the world looking down on it incredibly well.
The 34-year-old Serb landed in Melbourne on January 5, more than a week ago, with a vaccination exemption after testing positive for COVID last month. After being questioned by border officials, he was sent to a detention hotel last weekend.
Since the court’s January 10 decision to release him immediately, Djokovic has been able to resume pre-tournament training.
However, he still faces the possibility of deportation because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, a decision that is entirely at the discretion of Australia’s Minister of Immigration if it is deemed to be in the public interest. Earlier this week, Alex Hawke made it clear that he was looking into canceling the player’s visa again.
It is believed that information disclosed by Djokovic since then could influence the decision. There has been speculation that errors in his immigration model could tip the balance against him.
In the application, Djokovic said he had not traveled in the 14 days prior to his trip to Australia. However, the Monte Carlo-based athlete was seen in Spain and Serbia in that two-week period.
And the player said, on Wednesday, that it was presented on his behalf by his support team and that “my agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative error in ticking the incorrect box,” describing it as “a human error and certainly not intentional.”
Djokovic also admitted to making a “miscalculation” after he tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-December and should have immediately gone into isolation. The player was seen taking part in events in Serbia and gave a personal interview to the French publication L’Equipe.
He’s chasing a 10th Australian Open title, and a record 21st Grand Slam win – as is world number six Rafael Nadal. The 35-year-old Spaniard could face Djokovic in the semi-finals – if the Serbs are allowed to play.