Novak Djokovic included in Australian Open draw as visa decision goes down to the wire

Novak Djokovic has been included in the draw for next week’s Australian Open tennis tournament, but his participation is still in doubt with a government decision still due on whether the unvaccinated tennis star can stay in the country.

The fate of the men’s world number one remains in the balance. The immigration minister has been weighing up whether to revoke his visa again, days after a court ruled the original decision did not follow due process.

The draw for the first Grand Slam tournament of the year was delayed by over an hour on Thursday, with organisers admitting it was running late. When it was made, top seed Djokovic was drawn to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

The tournament’s director and CEO of the governing body Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, refused to reply to journalists’ questions.

At almost the same time, Australia’s Prime Minister was telling a news conference there was still no decision on Djokovic’s visa.

Scott Morrison outlined the current situation concerning the pandemic in the country, where infections have been rising in recent weeks as the Omicron variant spreads, putting pressure on hospitals. Attendance at the tournament has been restricted to 50% capacity.

On Wednesday Djokovic apologised for errors made in his visa application form, and for failing to isolate following a positive COVID test in December.

The controversy over the player’s vaccination status and his treatment by the Australian authorities has completely overshadowed the tournament in the days leading up to the event, as the world looks on incredulously.