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Court Permits Djokovic to Stay for Australian Open

Fans dance and sing outside an immigration detention hotel where Serbian Novak Djokovic is confined in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Court Permits Djokovic to Stay for Australian Open
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It looks like the world’s best male tennis player will be permitted to stay in Australia – for now.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic traveled to Melbourne last week to take part in the Australian Open. However, officials at the airport forced him to go to a hotel for travelers who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. They also took away his visa.

An Australian judge decided Monday that Djokovic would not have to return to Serbia. The judge said Djokovic should be permitted to leave the hotel immediately because he was not given enough time to speak with his lawyers. The judge also gave back Djokovic’s visa.

Djokovic had argued that he did not need a vaccine because he tested positive for COVID-19 in December. He arrived in Australia with an exemption from the vaccine requirement given to him by the organizers of the Australian Open. The competition starts January 17.

On Monday, Djokovic used Twitter to publish a picture of himself on a tennis court. A family member confirmed that Djokovic was training again.

The story is not over, however.

An Australian government lawyer said the immigration minister could still choose to cancel Djokovic’s visa.

If that happens, Djokovic could be sent back to Serbia and could be banned from entering Australia for three years.

Government lawyers said an exemption should only be offered to visitors who recently recovered from a serious illness caused by COVID-19. The lawyers said there was no evidence that Djokovic was seriously ill in December.

Alex Hawke is Australia’s minister for immigration. A spokesperson said Hawke “is currently considering the matter.”

Djokovic said on Twitter: “Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete.”

A win at the Australian Open would give Djokovic the record for total men’s Grand Slam victories. A “grand slam” is one of the four major tennis tournaments worldwide. Djokovic currently has 20 Grand Slam titles.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on reports by AP and Reuters.

Do you think Novak Djokovic will be able to stay in Australia and win the tournament? Tell us in the Comments Section and visit our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

positive n. the result from a test that shows that a particular germ, condition, or substance is present

exemption n. freedom from being required to do something that others are required to do — usually + from

practice v. to do something again and again in order to become better at it

despite prep. without being prevented by (something) — used to say that something happens or is true even though there is something that might prevent it from happening or being true