Australia to overturn Djokovic visa ban, source says
The decision of the tennis superstar to cancel his planned tour of Australia and New Zealand was a political one, and a reflection of his opposition to the government’s anti-terrorism legislation, the source said.
The two countries’ tennis federation issued a statement on Thursday saying Djokovic “wishes to travel to Australia to play competitive tennis matches, but on current circumstances and in light of the legislation currently pending in parliament, that is not possible.
“Djokovic also hopes that he will be able to play a significant role to help the people of Australia and New Zealand towards healing and reconciliation.”
The USTA said in a statement it was “extremely interested to hear the decision… and we will continue to have discussions with the Government of Australia.” The USTA is the governing body for elite athletes and has hosted players from other countries at its championships.
Australia’s prime minister said Djokovic “will have to speak to his government” before he makes a decision.
Djokovic, who has said he supports a ban, said he wanted to play in Australia and then return to his home country, where he has been a champion.
“The Australian government needs to show some flexibility, to give me the opportunity to play the game I love first,” he said. “I will not compromise my integrity, my integrity is more important and I hope I can do the right thing, which is to return to my home country to play tennis and to tell the people of Serbia all the good things that are happening.”
The Australian government has so far kept Djokovic out of Australia because of concerns about his safety and due to lack of evidence linking him to terrorist plots. But that stance has weakened after a court gave security authorities permission to interrogate a potential terrorist threat suspect, a man from Serbia, who had been living in the US.
Djokovic has called the decision by Australia to keep him out of the country an attack on his rights.
Under Australian law, a foreigner suspected of terrorism is barred from entering the country. But the law specifically prohibits any ban on travel to another country on national