CNN

Novak Djokovic would be welcome to play at the Australian Open if he can get a visa, according to tournament director Craig Tiley.

The former world No. 1 was expelled from Australia in January following a protracted saga, including a period of detention, preventing him from competing at this year’s Australian Open due to his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Under Australian law, Djokovic could be banned from the country for three years due to the circumstances surrounding his deportation, although Home Secretary Karen Andrews did not rule out an exemption at the time.

Tiley said on Wednesday that the Australian Open was unable to lobby on Djokovic’s behalf on the matter, while explaining that he had not been in contact with the Australian government about the visa. winner of 21 Grand Slam tournaments.

If Djokovic manages to get a visa, Tiley said the nine-time Australian Open winner will be allowed to compete in the first Grand Slam of 2023.

“At this point, Novak and the feds need to get the situation sorted out, and then we’ll follow all instructions after that,” Tiley told reporters.

“It is not an issue that we can lobby. It’s a matter that definitely remains between them and, depending on the outcome, we will welcome him to the Australian Open.”

Tiley added: “(Djokovic) has said he obviously would like to come back to Australia, but he knows it will be an ultimate decision for the Federal Government.

“He accepted this position. It’s a private matter between them, but we’d like to welcome Novak – he’s a nine-time champion – provided he meets the correct Australian entry requirements.

The Serb also did not play at this year’s US Open as he is still not vaccinated against Covid-19 and US rules at the time stated that any non-US citizen must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. virus in order to receive a visa and enter the country. .

Tiley also said Russian and Belarus players will be allowed to participate under a neutral flag at the upcoming Australian Open.

Tennis authorities had banned athletes from both countries from participating in international team competitions after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year – they were allowed to participate in regular tours.

While the French Open and US Open allowed them to compete as neutrals, Wimbledon imposed an outright ban – so world number one Daniil Medvedev was banned from competing.

“At this point Russian and Belarusian players will be eligible to play at the Australian Open,” Tiley said. “The only difference will be that they cannot represent Russia – cannot represent the flag of Russia.

“They cannot take part in any activity such as the Russia anthem and they must play as independent players under a neutral name. But they will be welcome at the Australian Open in January.

The 2023 Australian Open kicks off on Monday January 16 in Melbourne.

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