Thursday, October 13, 2022

From BBC Sports News- Australian Open: Novak Djokovic 'welcome' to compete if he can obtain visa

Novak Djokovic was not allowed to defend his Australian Open title this year The Australian Open cannot press its country's government into allowing Novak Djokovic to play in January's opening Grand Slam event of 2023, says tournament director Craig Tiley. Nine-time winner Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against Covid-19, is banned from re-entering Australia until 2025 after he was deported this year. The Australian government can waive the ban at its discretion. "It's not a matter we can lobby on," said Tiley. "Novak and the federal government need to work out the situation and then we'll follow any instruction after that. "It's a matter that definitely stays between the two of them and then depending on the outcome of that we would welcome him to the Australian Open." Former world number one Djokovic, a 21-time Grand Slam champion, also missed this year's US Open because of his vaccination status, following his victory at Wimbledon in the summer. Australia's former Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said this week she was opposed to the government lifting Djokovic's ban, saying it would be a "slap in the face" for Australians who have been vaccinated. Meanwhile, Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to compete in Melbourne, although Russian players will not be allowed to represent their country. "They cannot participate in any activity such as the anthem of Russia and they have to play as independent players under a neutral name," said Tiley. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian players are banned from international team competitions. But despite Wimbledon's ban they were permitted to compete as neutral athletes at both this year's French Open and US Open.

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