Djokovic Says He Holds No ‘Grudges’ Against Australia Over Being Deported

Topline

Top-ranked male tennis player Novak Djokovic said Friday he hopes to play in the Australian Open again, after he was ejected from the country in January due to his refusal to get vaccination against Covid-19.

Key Facts

During a press conference after his third round win in the French Open, Djokovic said he “would love to” go back to Australia to compete in the Australian Open, according to Reuters.

Djokovic said he doesn’t “hold any grudges” over the cancellation of his visa and deportation from the country.

The 35-year-old Serbian told reporters he has no new information about whether he would be approved for a visa in the future.

Australia still requires travelers to remain vaccinated against Covid-19, and Djokovic unvaccinated.

Key Background

A skeptic of Covid-19 vaccines since the early days of the pandemic, Djokovic’s refusal to get vaccination rose to international attention in January when the Australian government revoked a visa that had been issued to him on the grounds that he had qualified for a medical exemption from the country’s Covid vaccination requirement due to a prior infection with the virus. Then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed lower authorities’ decisions to detain, hold and later deport the tennis star, saying amid the saga, “Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules.” Djokovic has since missed several tournaments in the US, where foreign travelers are also required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, but was able to participate in the French Open due to France’s lifting of its vaccine travel restrictions in March.

Tangent

Djokovic will be able to compete in Wimbledon this summer after the Grand Slam tournament said in March it would not require participants to be vaccinated. Several other top players will not be able to compete in Wimbledon following the tournament’s ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes. Djokovic opposes the ban, calling it “crazy.”

What To Watch For

Djokovic will play world No. 16 Diego Schwartzman in the French Open’s fourth round Monday and is lined up to play rival No. 5 Rafael Nadal in Tuesday’s quarter finals. Nadal broke his tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer for most career Grand Slams by winning this year’s Australian Open.

Further Reading

How the ‘Djokovic Affair’ Finally Came to an End (New York Times)

Djokovic Can Play Wimbledon After Covid-19 Vaccination Requirement Dropped (Forbes)

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