Djokovic in Australian Open Draw as COVID Vaccine Row Drags On

Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic was included in the Australian Open draw as top seed Thursday while the government considers whether to revoke his visa for a second time.

Australia’s immigration minister could use discretionary power to cancel Djokovic’s visa over concern about the Serbian's medical exemption from Australia's COVID-19 vaccination rules.

Djokovic drew unseeded fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic for his opening match that is expected to take place on Monday or Tuesday.

Djokovic’s status remains uncertain after Thursday’s draw was held following a 75-minute delay to determine the brackets for the men’s and women’s singles draws at the first major tennis tournament of 2022.

The controversy has intensified debate worldwide over the rights of the unvaccinated and become a complicated political issue for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he seeks re-election.

Immigration minister Alex Hawke is still considering whether to deport Djokovic, who had his visa cancelled upon arrival in Melbourne last week when his vaccination exemption was rejected.

After being held with other asylum-seekers at an immigration detention hotel for several days, Djokovic won a legal dispute on procedural grounds that allowed him to remain in the country.

Djokovic acknowledged earlier this week that errors were made on his entry documents about his activities in the weeks before traveling to Australia.

The Serbian star issued a statement Wednesday saying his assistants had incorrectly declared that he had not traveled anywhere in the 14-days before departing for Melbourne last week. Reports have surfaced showing he traveled to Serbia and Spain.

Djokovic also said he did not know he tested positive for COVID-19 on December 16 until the next day, after he appeared at a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children. He also admitted that he should have canceled a planned magazine interview and photoshoot the day after learning of his status.

Source: Voice of America