Novak Djokovic included in Australian Open draw

Novak Djokovic included in Australian Open draw as he awaits visa decision; former world No 1 Andy Murray to face Nikoloz Basilashvili after beating Georgian at Sydney Tennis Classic

Novak Djokovic drew unseeded Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round of the Australian Open on Thursday as he awaits a decision over whether or not he will be allowed to remain in the country. 

The top seed, who is seeking a 21st Grand Slam title and fourth successive Australian Open crown, saw his visa refused upon his arrival in Melbourne last week due to questions over his COVID-19 vaccination exemption.

Djokovic won a subsequent court appeal against the cancellation, however, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is personally empowered to revoke his visa for a second time and is still mulling over a decision.

The 34-year-old tennis superstar was drawn to play Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

But the openly vaccine-sceptic Djokovic’s championship hopes were in peril as Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke pondered whether to revoke his visa for a second time and throw him out of the country.

Hawke is considering using his powers to annul the visa, his spokesman has said, although “lengthy further submissions” from Djokovic’s legal team have delayed a decision.

In a lengthy press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said no decision had yet been taken.

Djokovic flew into Melbourne airport on 5 January carrying a vaccine exemption because of a claimed positive PCR test result on 16 December.

Border agents rejected his exemption, saying a recent infection was an insufficient justification, tore up his visa and placed him in a detention centre.

But Djokovic’s high-powered legal team overturned the visa decision in court on Monday on a procedural matter related to his airport interview.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper quoted an unnamed government source as saying that allowing Djokovic to stay in Australia without a Covid-19 vaccine would set a dangerous precedent.

Tennis Australia delayed the draw for an hour-and-15 minutes for an unknown reason.

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