Australian Open: Novak Djokovic “welcome” to compete if he can get a visa
The Australian Open cannot pressure their country’s government to allow Novak Djokovic to play in the January 2023 Grand Slam opening event, tournament director Craig Tiley has said.
Nine-time winner Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against Covid-19, is banned from returning to Australia until 2025 after being deported this year.
The Australian government can lift the ban at its discretion.
“It’s not an issue we can lobby for,” Tiley said.
“Novak and the feds need to address the situation, and then we’ll follow all instructions after that.
“It’s a matter that definitely stays between them and depending on the outcome we will welcome him to the Australian Open.”
Former world number one Djokovic, a 21-time Grand Slam champion, also missed this year’s US Open due to his vaccination status, following his victory at Wimbledon this summer.
Former Australian Home Secretary Karen Andrews said this week she was opposed to the government lifting the ban on Djokovic, saying it would be a “slap in the face” for Australians who have been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to compete in Melbourne, although Russian players are not allowed to represent their country.
“They can’t take part in any activity like the anthem of Russia and they have to play as independent players under a neutral name,” Tiley said.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian players are banned from international team competitions.
But despite the Wimbledon ban, they were allowed to compete as neutral athletes at both the French Open and this year’s US Open.