Novak Djokovic can remain in Australia, court rules

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Helen Regan, Jack Guy and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:12 p.m. ET, January 11, 2022
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6:34 p.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Tennis group says events leading up to Monday's court hearing were "damaging" for Djokovic

From CNN’s Hira Humayun

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) called the series of events leading up to Novak Djokovic’s country hearing on Monday, “damaging on all fronts” – including to the athlete’s well-being, according to a statement from the association on Monday.

“In travelling to Melbourne, it’s clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations,” the statement read. “The series of events leading to Monday’s court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak's well-being and preparation for the Australian Open," the statement adds.

ATP added that player medical exemption requests are made independently of the association but that it has been in “constant contact” with Tennis Australia to “seek clarity throughout this process.” The association welcomed the outcome of Monday’s hearing, in which a judge quashed the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa.

The association said it continues to strongly recommend vaccination for all players on the ATP tour, calling it “essential for our sport to navigate the pandemic.” It added that 97 percent of the Top 100 players are vaccinated leading into this year’s Australian Open.

“The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of COVID-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place,” the association said. It added, “Complications in recent days related to player entry into Australia have however highlighted the need for clearer understanding, communication and application of the rules.” 

5:17 p.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Catch up: Here's a timeline of events in the Novak Djokovic saga

On Monday, a judge in Melbourne ruled that tennis star Novak Djokovic should be released from detention, and the government's cancellation of his visa overruled.

If you're just joining us, here's a recap of events that have led up to now.

According to Djokovic's affidavit:

  • October or November 2021: Djokovic files for an Australian temporary entry visa to compete in the Australian Open.
  • Nov. 18: Djokovic is granted the visa.
  • Dec. 16: Djokovic tests positive for Covid-19. That same day, he is photographed at three events, where none of the other participants are masked. The following day, he is also photographed at a youth awards event.
  • Dec. 22: He tests negative for the virus.
  • Dec. 30: He receives a medical exemption from Covid vaccination for entry from Tennis Australia, on the grounds that he had just recovered from Covid.
  • Jan. 1: Djokovic's team submits his travel declaration to the Australian Ministry of Home Affairs, which notifies them that it has been assessed and he is cleared for quarantine-free arrival.
  • Jan. 2: Djokovic receives a Border Travel Permit by the state government of Victoria, where Melbourne is located and where the tournament will take place.
  • Jan. 4: Djokovic departs from Spain.
  • Jan. 5: He arrives in Melbourne late at night, close to midnight. His passport is taken, and he is escorted to a small room where he is interviewed by border control officers.
  • Jan. 6: His visa is canceled by the Australian government, and he is taken to a temporary detention facility at the Park Hotel in Melbourne.
  • Jan. 10: His hearing commences, with the judge deciding to quash the cancelation of his visa and order his release from detention. Australia's immigration minister still has the power to cancel the visa, however, and is "currently considering the matter," according to a statement.

5:03 p.m. ET, January 10, 2022

A judge ruled Novak Djokovic should be released from detention. So what happens next?

Despite the positive news for tennis star Novak Djokovic on Monday, whether he will be able to compete in the Australian Open later this month still remains unclear.

If Djokovic is allowed to stay, when will he play? Following his release from detention, the Serbian tennis star has returned to training, according to his brother. Djokovic has made clear in a series of tweets that he still intends to play in the tournament.

We don't know yet when Djokovic's first match would be, but the main draw is on is Thursday Jan. 13.

Will the Australian Open intervene and cancel his visa? Given that the Australian Open invited Djokovic to play in the tournament, this seems unlikely.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times in his career. The 34-year-old Serbian has also won 20 grand slam singles titles -- an achievement matched by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. If he were to win the tournament, he would break the all-time men’s singles grand slam record.