Australian court rules Tennis star Djokovic can remain in county, in bid to play in Grand Slam event

The Serbian tennis star has been fighting to enter the country since last week

Updated: January 10, 2022 - 8:04am

A judge in Melbourne, Australia, ruled Monday that tennis star Novak Djokovic should be allowed to stay in the country without having a COVID-19 vaccination, following the national government's cancelation of his visa, a decision which the judge overruled. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke denies that Djokovic was ever detained, despite initial reports he was being kept in a government facility.

Djokovic, who had the virus in June 2020, was reportedly granted a vaccine exemption after showing proof of a past infection.

Djokovic has been fighting to enter Australia since arriving last week to compete in the upcoming Australian Open. He was issued a vaccine exemption from the country's state of Victoria to play in the tournament, but the reasoning for his exemption was not good enough for Australian officials.

Australia's minister of immigration retains the power to cancel the athlete's visa to play in the tournament, something he says he is currently considering.

Djokovic rival Rafael Nadal told a Spanish radio station: "Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on something, justice has spoken and has said he has the right to participate in the Australian Open and I think it is the fairest decision to do so."

He also said: "Egoistically speaking, for our sport it's better when the best in the world are on the court competing than anywhere else." 

Treatment of Djokovic has generated widespread criticism, including from Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios, who on Friday tweeted, "Look I definitely believe in taking action, I got vaccinated because of others and for my mums (sic) health, but how we are handling Novak's situation is bad, really bad."