Novak Djokovic receives lawyer backing over Australian Open ban as row escalates

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Novak Djokovic has received fresh backing from a lawyer over his ban on returning to Australia. The world No 7 was automatically barred from entering the country after being deported back in January and is hoping the ban will be lifted in time for January’s Australian Open, though some aren’t happy with the idea of him returning.

Djokovic is facing an anxious wait to learn whether he will be allowed to play the 2023 Australian Open. While the tournament is happy to have their nine-time champion back, Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley confirmed that the matter of overturning Djokovic’s three-year ban was in the federal government’s hands.

It means the 21-time Grand Slam champion may be stopped from playing the tournament if his ban until 2025 is upheld, though one lawyer believes he has a good chance of returning as he poses no “risk”. Immigration lawyer Kon-ming Tsai said it would be “in Australia’s best interests” to let Djokovic back in time for January’s Australian Open.

“There is no risk factor here with allowing him back in,” he told AP on Thursday. “He’s not going to create a problem for the community. He is one of the world’s best tennis players and will be able to pull in a lot of foreign visitors.”

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“So if immigration now chooses to make a special allowance for Novak Djokovic the obvious question is what are they going to do about anyone else who may be in similar circumstances?” Some residents are also against Djokovic returning before 2025, with one widower saying that the government “should not be giving him special treatment.”

John Delahunty’s wife, Rosemary, was in hospital with terminal pancreatic cancer and could only have one visitor at a time under the Covid restrictions during the period when Djokovic arrived in Australia unvaccinated earlier this year. “It really upsets me and not just for me and what my wife and I went through with all of the restrictions in lockdown, but also for the other millions of Australians who actually had to sacrifice and had to do things that they didn’t enjoy, but played by the rules,” he told Australia’s Today show.

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