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Novak Djokovic has returned to Australia nearly 12 months after he was deported by Australia’s draconian government for choosing not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the 2022 Australian Open.
While the Serbian is thrilled to be back down under, he’s not going to forget how he was treated a year ago.
Djokovic arrived in Australia earlier this week to begin preparation for the Adelaide International which is set to begin on January 1. He took some time to reflect on his deportation from the country and emphasized that the experience is something he can’t forget.
“Obviously what happened 12 months ago was not easy for me, for my family, team, anybody who is close to me,” he said. “It’s obviously disappointing to leave the country like that.”
“You can’t forget those events. It’s one of these things that stays with you for, I guess, the rest of your life. It’s something that I’ve never experienced before and hopefully never again. But it is a valuable life experience for me and something that as I said will stay there, but I have to move on.”
Djokovic was deported from Australia last January after a 10-day legal saga that ended with his visa being revoked. Originally the Serbian was granted an exemption from Australia’s extremely strict vaccination rules to play in last year’s Grand Slam, but that exemption was quickly reversed.
Those who are deported from Australia automatically receive a three-year ban from returning to the country, but an exception has been made for Djokovic, still unvaccinated, to return to the country.
Djokovic was forced to miss both the U.S. Open and the Australian Open in 2022 after choosing not to get the jab, but is slated to play in the 2023 Aussie Open beginning on January 16.
The 35-year-old has won nine Australian Opens in his career, including three straight from 2019-2021.