As the decision on Novak Djokovic’s return to Australia looms, the Albanese government has been warned that allowing the controversial tennis star’s re-entry will have negative consequences.
With the 2023 Australian Open fast approaching, Djokovic and his fans are hopeful that the Albanese government will overturn the athlete’s cancelled visa, following his deportation in January 2022, over his anti-vaccination stance.
Speaking to the Herald Sun, Shadow Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said retracting the former government’s three-year ban on Djokovic would be “a slap in the face” to those who did the right thing.
“If there’s a change in the ban resulting from a new set of circumstances for Mr Djokovic then the Labor Government needs to apply the same rule equally to others in the same circumstances, regardless of their level of fame,” she said.
“Otherwise, it would be a slap in the face for those people in Australia who did the right thing at the time.”
Andrews warns that overturning Djokovic’s ban will involve a review of other bans on people whose visa’s were cancelled on similar grounds.
Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Dan Tehan stands in agreement with Andrews on the matter, saying the tennis pro should not be given “special treatment” because of his status.
“He’s won nine Australian Opens … and obviously for tennis lovers it would be great if he could play,” Tehan said.
“But what we have to do is, we have got to make sure we protect the integrity of our immigration system.
“If they single out Djokovic for special treatment then that would be a hard policy for them to defend.”
However, Djokovic remains hopeful about his return to Australia to continue his competitive career.
— Right Said Fred (@TheFreds) July 14, 2022
“I was deported from the country to which I would like to come back,” he recently told reporters at the Bosnian tennis centre.
“I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best Grand Slam results in that country. Hopefully, in January, I can be there because I want to be there.
“I am a professional tennis player, I don’t go into politics or anything else because that doesn’t interest me. I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and at least I expect people to respect my decision.
“If I have permission, I’ll be there. If I don’t, I won’t be there – it’s not the end of the world.”
The 35-year-old sportsman’s anti-vaccination stance has most recently seen him miss out on playing the US Open, with the country maintaining the nation’s vaccination regulations for those entering the country.