Tennis star Novak Djokovic has a chance to play at the Australian Open again, but he can do so if he can obtain a visa, said tournament director Craig Tiley.

Due to his refusal to get vaccinated for Covid-19, he was deported from Australia in January after a prolonged saga. It included time in detention, which prevented his participation in this year’s Australian Open, reported CNN. Going by the Australian law, the Serbian tennis star, who is a nine-time winner of the Australian Open, could be banned from the nation for 3 years due to the circumstances surrounding his deportation. But at the time, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews didn’t rule out an exemption.

The Australian Open were unable to lobby on the 21-grand slam winner’s behalf on this matter, Tiley said on Wednesday. He also shared that he has not been in contact with the Australian government about Djokovic's visa. If the athlete is able to obtain a visa, Tiley said he would be permitted to play in the first grand slam of 2023. He added that at this point, Djokovic and the federal government "need to work out the situation and then we’ll follow any instruction after that."

Tiley remarked that it's not a matter the tournament team can lobby on. He noted 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.”

Tiley shared that Djokovic said that he’d love to "come back to Australia, but he knows it’s going to be an ultimate decision for the federal government." He added that it’s a private matter between them, but "we’d like to welcome Novak back, provided he gets the right entry requirements into Australia.”

Business Insider reported that Djokovic said last month that he was hoping to "get some positive news" from the Australian authorities. However, Andrews said last week that letting Djokovic play in the tournament in 2023 would be a "slap in the face" for citizens who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Australia's Shadow Immigration Minister Dan Tehan said that he is a tennis fan and would like to see Djokovic, who also missed the U.S. Open because of his vaccination status, at the Australian Open, reported Tennis World. He said that as a tennis lover, he'd love to see him there, but the most important thing here is that "we protect the integrity of our immigration system." He added that the rules about coming into "Australia have changed, you don't have to be vaccinated anymore." He noted that if they decide that the star can come, "they’ve got to do so in making that decision in a way to protect the integrity of our immigration system."

On Wednesday, Tiley added that players from Russia and Belarus will be permitted to participate under a neutral flag in the upcoming Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses with the Wimbledon trophy during the press conference in the Belgrade City Hall on July 11, 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia. Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

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