Novak Djokovic lands in Australia year after deportation

FILE – Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, wipes the sweat off during a training session at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, on April 30, 2022. Djokovic withdrew from the upcoming hard-court tournament in Montreal on Thursday, AUg. 4, 2022, because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and is therefore not allowed to enter Canada. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has returned to Australia nearly a year after being booted from the country due to being unvaccinated for COVID-19.

A Tennis Australia spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that the 35-year-old tennis star is slated to compete in the Adelaide International 1 tournament next month. He is also entered to play in the Australian Open later in the month, the tournament at the center of his vaccine controversy.

Djokovic’s return comes a month after Australian officials announced their decision to lift the tennis star’s three-year ban from entering the country. 

The Hill has reached out to Tennis Australia for comment.

Authorities earlier this year prohibited Djokovic, a 21-time Grand Slam champion, from competing in any tennis tournaments in the country due to his unvaccinated status and COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time.

Djokovic had his visa revoked after traveling to Australia, and was ordered to leave the country in January following a high-profile legal battle.

Australia, which had been among the most strict countries in limiting travel amid the pandemic, dropped its vaccination requirement for visitors in July.

Djokovic is among the most prominent athletes to voice their skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines and mandates, along with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving. 

Djokovic also declined to participate in the 2022 U.S. Open due to rules requiring foreign visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

In a statement on Monday, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley expressed his excitement about Djokovic’s return to play in Australia, according to CNN. 

“We will welcome him back to Australia,” Tiley said in a statement. “I have a great deal of confidence in the Australian public. I think we have a very well-educated sporting public particularly those that come for tennis. They love their tennis. They love seeing greatness. They love seeing great athleticism, great matches.” 

“I have a lot of confidence that the fans will react like we hope they would react and have respect for that,” Tiley added.

Tags Aaron Rodgers anti-vaccination Australia australian open COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccine Craig Tiley Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic Tennis Australia US Open

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