‘I don’t hold any grudges’: Djokovic wants to return to Australia, happy refugees were released

Paris: Novak Djokovic is optimistic about returning down under for January’s Australian Open, saying he holds no grudges over his deportation earlier this year.

The world No. 1 also expressed his joy about the release of refugees from the Melbourne detention centre in which he was famously held in January.

Djokovic remains unvaccinated against COVID-19 and confirmed he was aware the federal government which made the case that his presence in Australia may disrupt civil order and undermine the nation’s pandemic response had lost office at last week’s election.

Djokovic missed the Australian Open and was eventually deported . Djokovic had been granted a controversial exemption to enter Australia but was booted out of the country at the 11th hour.

Asked at the French Open – his first appearance at one of the sport’s four majors since he narrowly missed claiming the grand slam at last year’s US Open – whether he was aware refugees staying in detention at Melbourne’s Park Hotel were freed, Djokovic said: I’m very happy because they got another chance in different country.

The nine-time Australian Open champion said he did not hold any grudges against the Australian government for the dramatic two weeks at the start of the year.

Under Australian immigration law, Djokovic — having had his visa cancelled on public health grounds — cannot be granted a visa for a three-year period unless Australia’s Immigration Minister agrees to an exemption on compelling or compassionate grounds.

When Djokovic was deported, then Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews would not speculate on future scenarios for Djokovic.

Djokovic has only played sparingly on the tour this year over his choice not to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The 34-year-old , unable to play in Miami and at Indian Wells in March.

But he’s aiming to defend his French Open title at Roland Garros, currently through to the fourth round, and will play Wimbledon next month.

When asked his thoughts about the status of refugees, some who had been locked up in Melbourne for years on end, Djokovic said: All refugees, did all refugees leave the detention centre?

If that’s correct, then I’m obviously very happy about it because I know that it was very difficult for them, particularly for the ones that stayed there for nine years, he said.

I stayed there for a week, and I can’t imagine how they felt for nine years.

They haven’t done anything wrong, and they are asylum seekers and stayed for nine years. That’s something I obviously did not understand why.

But if I brought some light to that situation, then, you know, in a positive way for them, for this to happen, then of course I’m very happy because they got another chance in different country.

We underestimate freedom. Until you actually live something like that and see what the circumstances are, then you don’t really have an idea of what it feels like when somebody strips away the freedom from you.

Djokovic referenced the case of , who was released in early March and resettled in the United States.

I know he went to the United States. I saw that, saw his pictures. I was very happy that he’s happy, that he’s getting to live free.

Djokovic confirmed his unvaccinated status in a BBC interview, and said he was not against vaccination but was willing to skip major tournaments such as grand slam events if he was forced to take the jab.

News that the Coalition had lost power in Australia and Labor leader Anthony Albanese was Australia’s newest Prime Minister reached Djokovic in France.

In terms of the government, yes, I heard the news, said the Serbian, who has won 20 major titles, sitting one behind Rafael Nadal, who won the Australian Open in Djokovic’s absence.

But, I mean, I don’t know anything about whether my visa is going to be reinstated or whether I’m going to be allowed to come back to Australia.

I would like to. I would like to go there and play the Australian Open. I don’t hold any grudges. Look, you know, it was what it was.

If I have an opportunity to go back to Australia and play a place where I made the biggest success in my career on grand slam [titles], I would love to come back.

Let’s see how it goes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *