Following his expulsion, tennis star Novak Djokovic may be able to return to Australia sooner than expected, according to the country’s prime minister.
On Sunday, the top men’s player was deported after losing a visa battle over his lack of vaccinations.
Djokovic, 34, is barred from obtaining a new visa for three years under Australian immigration restrictions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on the other hand, suggested he might be allowed in sooner if the “proper circumstances” arise.
“[The prohibition] is for three years, but there is the possibility for them to return under the appropriate conditions, and that would be reviewed at the time,” he stated in an interview with 2GB radio station in Australia on Monday.
The three-year visa ban can be waived for persuasive or compassionate grounds under Australian law.
Djokovic might be able to compete in the Australian Open next year as a result of this.
On Monday, the competition began in Melbourne, which has been overshadowed by the unvaccinated players’ immigration issues.
Djokovic was supposed to play later in the day, but his dramatic deportation only hours before the tournament destroyed his chances of earning a record 21st Grand Slam title.
He was seen wearing a mask and carrying two suitcases as he exited the plane. He’ll arrive in Belgrade later.
Judges supported Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa on public health grounds, forcing him to depart Australia.
The decision brought an end to a turbulent 10-day battle in which the Serb struggled to keep his title and defend it.
After testing positive for coronavirus in mid-December, he was granted a medical exemption to enter Australia by two separate independent health panels – one commissioned by Tennis Australia, the other by the state government of Victoria.
The player’s effort to enter the country without getting vaccinated, however, enraged the people.
His visa was withdrawn when he was held by the Australian Border Force on 5 January for failing to meet coronavirus standards.
Last Monday, a judge overruled the judgement, but the government intervened again a few days later to revoke the visa.
On Sunday, the legal struggle came to an end when justices supported the government’s decision, leaving Djokovic with little choice but to flee the country.